GREAT RACING MARQUES.
By E. K. H. KARSLAKE
LA Societe des Moteurs Salmson was a well-known concern before the car bearing its name ever came into existence. Their original business was the manufacture of aeroplane engines, which acquitted themselves with great credit in the service of the French Air Force, and it was not until after the war that M. Armand Bovier, who realised the future of the light car, introduced to their notice the English G.N. It was not long, however, before the French patents for this car were purchased, and manufacture was started in France.
Salmson, however, soon began to be interested in the “small four,” and in 1921 the first 4-cylinder Salmson was built. The engine of this car had a bore and stroke of 62 x 90 mms. (1,024 c.c.), with two overhead camshafts. It was entered for the French cycle car Grand Prix, and was driven in the race which was rim at le Mans by A. Lombard. Twenty cycle cars started, but at the end of the first few laps Lombard appeared in first place, and there he stayed until the end of the race. The Salmson ran with clocklike regularity and averaged 54.6 m.p.h. for the 193 miles of the race, an increase of over 7 m.p.h. on the winner’s average in the 1920 race. Alter this victory the Salmson was sent across to England, and with Lombard again as its driver, was
entered for the first 200 Miles Race. In the 1,100 c.c. class, all the competition lay between the lone Salmson and the team of G.N.’s ; but in the end Lombard had to be content with second place, finishing some nine minutes after Frazer Nash’s G.N., and averaging over 67 m.p.h.
By the next year’s race, however, a team of three cars had been preparen, and in the hands of Benoist, Bueno and Desvaux, once again faced the competition of the G.N. team. Throughout the early part of the race it was first Salmson, then G.N. in the lead, but at half distance the regularity of the French cars had scored and the three Salmsons were in the lead. On the forty-third lap, however, Bueno’s car cracked its water jacket, owing to the fact that the radiator cap had been screwed down so tight that the bent pipe orifice had been blocked. The other two cars continued to run perfectly, and finally finished first and second, Benoist, the winner, averaging 81.88 m.p.h., an improvement of 14 m.p.h. on Lombard’s performance the year before. Desvaux finished two minutes after him, and the two Salmsons beat all the 1,500 c.c. cars except the first three. The Grand Prix des Voiturettes, as in 1921, proved another triumph for the Salmsons. Four cars started,
with Benoist, Bueno, Desvaux and Casse as their drivers, and once more competition was very keen. The Salmsons soon showed themselves the fastest cars on the course, but on the sixteenth lap Bueno overturned, and had to retire. Benoist and Desvaux, however, finished first and second, with Casse on the third Salmson fifth, Benoist averaging 61.3 m.p.h. on the difficult le Mans circuit. The Salmsons were by now very fast, and a demonstration of their speed abilities was given at the end of the year, when Lombard on a single-seater averaged 94.9m.p.h. over a flying kilometre in the Bois de Boulogne, and Benoist was timed at 82.82 m.p.h. on the 2-seater. In 1923 was run the first Grand Prix d’Endurance at le Mans, and a team of Salmsons were entered for it. Both ran well for the 24 hours, and the one driven by Desvaux and Casse covered thirteenth greatest distance
Touring Grand Prix at Tours, for which three Salmsons were entered in the 2-seater class, and had Lombard, Benoist and Desvaux as their drivers. They started the race well, and at the end of four laps held the first three places in their class. Then, however, Desvaux began to drop back, and just before the end of the race Lombard and Benoist had to retire with empty radiators, which the rules did not allow them to refill. Desvaux, however, continued, and finally finished third in the 2-seater class. It was not long, however, before this defeat was avenged. A race for cars up to 1,100 c.c. was combined with the Grand Prix de Prance motor-cycle race at Montargic, and for it three Salmsons were entered, with Benoist, Bueno and Desvaux as their drivers. As well as this a new smaller Salmson driven by Lombard was entered in the 750 c.c. class, but it was badly damaged
and Benoist and Bueno’s sixteenth, the two cars being easily first and second of the 1,100 c.c. cars.
A week later the Salmsons took part in another 24hour event. This was the Bol d’Or, and four Salmsons, driven by Benoist, Desvaux, Casse and Chappaz, started in it. Chappaz overturned on the first lap, but the other three cars ran with great regularity, Benoist and Desvaux finally dead-heating for first place, with Casse on the remaining Salmson third. The winners averaged 46 m.p.h. for the full day over the difficult course in the Forest of St: Germaine in spite of the fact that they slackened speed towards the end, when they found they had the race well in hand. The next outlet for the Salmson activity was the
by fire two days before the race, and although it started, it was not in good condition, and had soon to retire. The three 1,100 c.c. cars, however, successfully showed clean pairs of heels to all their rivals, and finally finished first, second and third, Desvaux, the winner, averaging 61.5 m.p.h. for the 284 miles. Three 1,100 c.c. cars started once more in the Grand Prix de Boulogne in August, and had Benoist, Bueno and Casse as their drivers. Their chief rivals were the Frazer Nashes, but after the first three rounds the Salmsons held the three leading positions. Casse, however, was forced to retire before the end, but Benoist and Buena finished first and second, the latter averaging 66.3 m.p.h. and beating all the 1,500 c.c. cars with the
exception of the winning Talbot-Darracq.
The 750 c.c. Salmson made its first real appearance some three weeks later in the Grand Prix des Voiturettes, in which it was driven by Lombard. At the same time Benoist, Bueno and Casse started in the 1,100 c.c. class with the larger machines. Once more the Salmson superiority was clearly proved, the three bigger machines at once taking the lead in their class, and although Bueno failed to finish, Benoist and Casse came home first and second. Benoist averaged 65.5 m.p.h., and. covered one lap of the difficult le Mans at the amazing average of 70.4 m.p.h.
The three Salmsons were entered for the 200 Miles Race, and their drivers were officially announced as Lombard, Benoist and Bueno. At the last minute, however, Lombard was replaced by 0. Wilson-Jones, but the Englishman soon showed that he was well able to keep up with his French team-mates. For the first half of the race, the three Salmsons ran in good order in the lead, but thereafter both Benoist and Jones had trouble with their petrol feed, and dropped back considerably. Bueno, uowever, continued serenely and finally finished first at the amazing average for an 1,100 c.c. car in 1923 of 82.73 m.p.h. In the course of the race he annexed the class records for 50, 100 and 200 Miles, and for one and two hours. The record for 150 miles went to Benoist, who eventually finished third, while Jones’ Salmson was still running when the race was called off. At the end of this magnificent season in 1923 Salmsons, to everyone’s regret, announced that for the present they would retire from racing, and the team was broken up. For all this, three cars were again entered in 1924 for the 200 Miles Race, this time with English drivers,0. Wilson Jones, Count Zborowski and Douglas Hawkes. Jones took the lead from the outset in the 1,100 c.c. class, followed by Zborowski and Hawkes, but on the fifteenth lap the latter had to retire with a sheared magneto drive. Zborowski’s engine, too, had been damaged in practice, and was finally put out with a broken connecting rod. Jones, however, finished an
easy winner and successfully eclipsed the Salmson performance of the year before by averaging 85.7 m.p.h., and taking the 1,100 c.c. records for 200 Miles and for two hours.
By this time many Salmsons of the Grand Prix type had found their way into the hands of amateur enthusiasts, and it was not long before they made their mark in Italy, where fast cars are not unpopular. It is not surprising, therefore, that one appeared in the first Grand Prix de Rome in the hands of an Italian driver, Clerici, and succeeded in winning the 1,100 c.c. class at 47.8 m.p.h. A month later two Salmsons driven by Didier and Bac started in the Grand Prix de Provence at Miramas, and finished first and second in the 1,100 c.c. class, Didier, the winner, averaging 62.7 m.p.h. for 313 miles.
The first big race of the year from the Salmson point of view, however, was the San Sebastian Grand Prix, in which two cars started, driven by Casse and Le-Nane. The latter overturned after holding the lead for ten rounds, but Casse went on to win the 1,100 c.c. class, averaging 58.8 m.p.h. for the 330 miles of the difficult Lasarte circuit. A week later, the scene was changed to Brooklands, for the 200 Miles Race again numbered three Salmsons among the starters, this time with Goutte, de Marnier and Newman as their drivers. As usual, they soon proceeded to dominate the 1,100 c.c. class, although George Newman had a good deal of trouble and finally went out with a seized big end. Goutte and de Marnier, however, held the lead unchallenged, and finally finished first and second in the 1,100 c.c. class, and what was perhaps even more creditable, gained third and fourth positions in the 1,500 c.c. division. That year turns were introduced in the course for the first time, and Goutte’s average, therefore, when he scored the fourth consecutive win for Salmson in the classic English race, was 68.55 m.p.h.
After this victory, three Salmsons, driven by Casse, Goutte and de Marnier, started in the 1,100 c.c. class of the Grand Prix de France, accompanied by Peuot, an amateur driver, on another $almson. But on this occasion fortune did not favour them, and minor troubles having robbed them of what looked like a certain victory, de Mariner finished second, with Goutte, Perrot and Casse immediately behind him. Before the year was out, however, a Salmson appeared once more in a big race, when Clerici, who had won the 1,100 c.c. class of the Grand Prix de Rome, finished second in the 1,100 c.c. class of the Circuit del Garda race.
1926 opened with more activity in Italy, when three Salmsons, driven by Borzacchini, Rallo and Geri Gino started in the 1,100 c.c. class of the Tarp. Florio, and succeeded in finishing first, second and fourth, Borzacchini overaging 38.38 m.p.h., an extremely creditable speed on the Madonie circuit. That year, however, Salmson decided to return to serious racing in France, and a car driven by Casse and Rousseau covered tenth greatest distance in the Grand Prix d’Endurance and qualified for the final of the third triennial RudgeWhitworth Cup. In conjunction with the French Grand Prix at Miramas, a race was held for 1,100 c.c. cars, and in it four
Salmsons started, with Casse, Rousseau, Geudrot and de Victor as their drivers. They had to meet the new 6-cylinder Amilcars of which much was expected, but in the end Casse finished first, averaging 65 m.p.h., with Geudrot second, Rousseau fourth, and de Victor seventh.
The J.C.C. production car race proved one of the greatest of Salmson triumphs. The race was open to all standard cars up to 1,500 c.c., and two Salmsons, driven by Hazlehurst and Martineau, started in it. The amazing speed of the standard Salmson was soon apparent, and .Hazlehurst finally finished first, beating all the 1,500 c.c. cars, and averaging 62.9 m.p.h. Martineau finished fourth in the general classification and third in the 1,100 c.c. class. Three Salmsons started in the brand Prix de Boulogne of 1926, one driven by Bourdon being
equipped with a Cozette supercharger, while the other two were driven by George Newman and George Duller. The latter’s car went out during the race owing to failure of the lubrication, but Bourdon and Newman finished first and second, the former beating all the 1,500 c.c. cars with the exception of the winning Bugatti.
The 200 Miles Race, which has always been a great scene of activity for Salmson, did not belie its character in 1926. No fewer than seven Salmsons were entered, the official team consisting of Goutte, Casse and de Marnier on supercharged cars, while George Newman drove a similar machine, and the other three drivers were Hazlehurst, Dunfee and Wood. Their great rivals
were now the 6-cylinder Amilcars, but Casse early took the lead, with Goutte third. Early on de Marnier was forced to retire with a slipping clutch. He was followed by Dunfee with a defective steering gear, but much more important, Casse too retired with engine trouble. Goutte too had fallen far back with misfiring, and Wood went out with a seized bearing. Finally George Newman finished fourth, and Goutte seventh. This year the Salmsons have distinctly made a good start with a first and second in the 1,100 c.c. Targa Florio, a second and third in the Grand Prix d’Enduraire and victory in the
Rudge Whitworth Cup. Rumour, however, is predicting an entirely new straight-eight racer to appear in the near future, which should be a very dangerous competitor in the 1,100 c.c. class.