RUMBLINGS, August 1936
The French Grand Prix has demonstrated two
things. One, that sports-car racing can be really exciting, and the other, that the French public think “otherwise, at any rate judging from the attendance, which was less than one third of that in the two previous years. Next year perhaps, being guided by our learned colleagues Messrs. Charles Faroux and Maurice Henry of ” L’Auto,” the spectators will renew their patronage, determined not to miss the fine show they failed to see on June 28th.
For the Englishmen of course, the 17-mile run down from Paris, with private cars, taxis, and buses packed to the brim with enthusiasts (” Plateforme 5 fr. “) is all part of the fun, and who can imagine one-way traffic down the Kingston By-Pass for a Brooklands meeting ?
What sort of Sports Cars?
The snag about sports-car races is of course that with lenient regulations such as prevail at Le Mans and the French Grand Prix, manufacturers with plenty of money to spare are not afraid to build special “cars with crank-shafts, carburetion, brakes, and other .details very different from those on the cars which you or I can buy. The Frenchman is principally desirous that the cars should go fast, and as long as they have lamps, mudguards, and the same number of cylinders :as is given in the catalogue, does not worry too much what is under the bonnet. One of the biggest arguments for regulations of this sort of course is that a -manufacturer can try new ideas for improving his “cars before releasing them on an innocent public. ‘Otherwise I think the strict regulations which govern the entries in the Ulster T.T. are to be preferred. -Certainly in this case the manufacturer has more right to advertise that his entry is “the same as you can buy.”
It is encouraging to see that three Talbots and six Delahayes have been entered for Ulster. It is a pity that the Bugatti team is not taking part as well, but :Le Patron is not at all keen on handicap events.
On the first list the 41-litre Bentley driven by E. R. Hall is the only English car in the small race, though I hear now that Lord Howe and Brian Lewis are driving Lagondas. Why does not W. 0. Bentley build a 44-litre Lagonda with a nine-foot six wheelbase for competition purposes ? Perhaps the revival in sports-car racing will encourage the Lagonda Company to do something about it. I am anxious to see what the new Frazer-Nash
B.M.W.s do on the Ards circuit. At the French Grand Prix they were by far the fastest in the 2-litre class as long as they were running. One of them dropped out with a broken oil-pipe but worse befell the other two. The engines were mounted on rubber, a method of construction which gave no trouble in the shorter Eifel race. After three hours of tearing round the Montlhery course, however, the mountings disintegrated, and Henne found the fan mounted on the front of the engine, carving its way through the radiator. That won’t be allowed to happen at Ulster.
The Fourth Estate
Five score and ten steps bring you to the press stand at Montlhery, a veritable aerie eighty feet above ground level. From there you can get a magnificent panorama, taking in part of the banking, the pits and the greenery in the centre of the Piste de Vitesse, packed with little crowds of spectators sheltering under tabernacles of green boughs.
The main track is forty feet wide and the pits stand back another fifty feet and consequently the excellent score board is so far away that binoculars are needed to read it. This year the authorities hit on a really bright scheme for spreading information. They connected up the pits, stands and various points to a central office with telephone cables and there installed a “teleprinter.” This is operated from a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter. The message, race order, lap score, cause of breakdown or what-not, is transmitted by wire to the various points and there the electric impulses work further machines which print out the messages.
In England I think the palm for the best press service must be awarded to the B.R.D.C., which issues frequent bulletins and lap orders and in addition every few laps put out a list showing the number of laps completed by every car in the race.
Reporting under conditions like this is quite a pleasant way of passing the afternoon. At the opposite end of the scale you get races like the Monaco Grand Prix, where the leading cars come round once every two minutes, and those early races over in Ireland where the score board was obviously all at sea and not even the officials knew bow many laps had been completed. Probably worst of all is the Indianapolis Grand Prix, from which a colleague has just returned. At this race there is no press service, not even a list of cars, and as these cars are in any case effectively camouflaged by such names as “Non-Cling Chewing Gum Special” the pressman’s lot is not a happy one.
Burning up Salt Lake
George Eyston and Denly have added fresh lustre to their reputation as ” Recordmen du Monde” with a magnificent series of new world records, eighteen in all, taken with the Rolls-Royce engined “Speed of the Wind” on Bonneville Salt Flats.
Those up to twelve hours were taken at a speed of over 149 m.p.h., but in spite of this the pair will have two challengers. Ab. Jenkins is building a twelvecylinder car with which he hopes to make attempts later this year, and John Cobb is going over shortly with the Napier-Railton to try to win back some of his records, though I should imagine that the limits of this car, still only three years old, had just about been reached. Meanwhile George or rather his assistants in England, are proceeding with the building of a still faster recordbreaker, fitted with a Rolls-Royce Schneider Trophy engine and again making use of front-wheel drive. Sir Malcolm Campbell has deserted the track for the water and is rumoured to be piloting a speed-boat which will run on Windermere in the autumn in an attempt to win back the water speed record from America. Kaye Don is another fast motorist who is
taking to aquatics after a lengthy absence from racing. He celebrated his return to the sport by winning, recently, the American Gold Club at Lake George, New Jersey, U.S.A.
After seeing and chatting with the ever-cheerful Lehoux in the Isle of Man and at Montlhery, it was a great shock to me and to all his friends to hear of his death in the Deauville Grand Prix. It appears that he was lying second, just under a lap behind Farina on the Alfa, and just as the Alfa driver was overtaking him for the second time the cars touched. Both cars turned over and Lehoux was killed instantly ; Farina escaped with a shaking. Lehoux’s death will be much regretted by all who follow Continental racing, for he was a hard and keen driver who inevitably drove a sporting race.
Two other well-known drivers had narrow escapes from serious injury recently. One was Pat Driscoll, who crashed at the Bristol Speed Trials when driving the Austin. The other was Chiron who was thrown out when his Mere. overturned in the German Grand Prix. Both of them sustained head injuries, but I understand that they are both making satisfactory progress.
The Isle of Man Dispute
After the 1 flitre race in the Isle of Man several of the drivers made an appeal to the stewards of themeeting to be given the prize money advertised in. the programme, which was higher than that offered
in the regulations. The stewards turned it down, but a further appeal, this time to the stewards of the R.A.C., was successful and the drivers have now received their full reward. This latter appeal was brought on the advice of Oliver Bertram, -whose exciting runs round Brooklandson the Barnato-Hassan are only subsidiary to his work
as a practising barrister. His racing performances. were recognised last month, when he received the 1935 Track Star at a B.R.D.C. dinner. Lord Howe and Freddy Dixon dead-heated for the Road Star, so they got one each.
Three members of the B.R.D.C. were invited last month to take part in the Villa Real race in Portugal„
run on a particularly twisty course in the upper reaches of the Douro valley. No news has yet been heard of them, and one hopes that they have not succumbed to the potency of the local vintage. Rayson, ManbyColegrave and Brianlt are the three who were sent.
Briault’s E.R.A. incidentally is the one which was raced at the beginning of the season by Dr. Beniafield. ” Benjy ” finds now that hard work at St. George’s and Harley Street do not go well together, and has also sold his other racing car, the 2.6-litre Alfa, which is now being run by Connell.
Other well-known cars that have found new owners are Lord Howe’s 3-litre Maserati and the 10-litre Delage which Cobb and then Bertram used to drive. Cholmondeley-Tapper has bought the Aila,serati and drove it at Deauville and the German Grand • Prix, and the Delage has been bought by R. A. C. Summer who will find it a complete contrast to his Austin Seven. He is running it at the Poole Speed Trials in August, and as the first corner on this course is a rightangle one with the sea beyond, I have advised him to add a swimming collar to his racing kic.
Better Main Roads ?
Die-hards (sometimes) like myself, are inclined to regret that the average British sports car nowadays tends to soft riding, rather than the stiff springing of heretofore. Sometimes I wonder if it has not been forced on manufacturers by the corrugated surfaces of our main. roads. I know at any rate on my nonboulevard-ride car a long run on parts of the Great North Road or Watling Street is enough to make me distinctly uncomfortable amidships, especially if I have been unwise enough to have a hearty meal.
Under the circumstances it was good news to see last month that it had been decided to nationalise the chief trunk routes of Great Britain. These include the Great North Road, Watling Street, A.6 (LondonCarlisle-Glasgow) and others, a total distance of 4,500 miles. More power to the Belishal elbow.
Most of us, I fancy, have our own ways of avoiding the more congested and built-up areas, and if one takes the trouble to write to them, the motoring associations are always ready to furnish routes of this kind. The ordinary touring maps of England, well produced as most of them are, are not concerned with showing the way to avoid heavy traffic, but last week I encountered an admirable publication designed to supply this need. Entitled “Quiet-Way Motoring Maps,” it consists of a strong canvas cover in which are two cellophanefaced pockets. In one are kept ten sectional maps, extending from the South Coast to Edinburgh and Glasgow, with a scale of 10 miles to the inch. Now for the cunning idea. Ordinary main roads are printed in green, while a series of forty routes taking in the best scenery and avoiding crowded roads is printed in black. The cellophane panel is also coloured green, so that when the map covering the area in which you want to travel is in position you see only the ” quiet-way ” route. Route cards giving very thorough directions are stored
in the other transparent pocket. These ingenious maps are sponsored by Price’s, the oil people of Battersea, London, S.W.11, and cost complete five shillings.
Going Abroad ?
Even when funds will not permit travelling abroad, I get tremendous pleasure from looking up old routes on the “Michelin Guide” and ” Europa Touring.” Last month I found a new publ:cation which gives new zest to thinking out imag;gary voyages.
The book is called ” Aldors 9;6 on the Continent,” and it deals with the politics, sights, eats, drinks, habits, customs, and night-clubs of twenty-six European countries, not to speak of phrases in many of the languages. Looking up Poland, for instance, I found this apt paragraph. “Driving for pleasure in Poland would only be possible, however, from April to November. It is true that the Monte Carlo Rally competitors starting from Tallinn have to pass through Poland in the middle of winter, and they do so, but this feat should not be regarded as an encouragement to would-be imitators.” The author of this section, Mr. A. T. Lutoslawski, has my entire agreement.
Art and Motoring
If you fancy your skill as a photographer of motorcars you should get hold of the monthly publications of the Rolls-Royce Company and Bentley Motors Ltd., entitled respectively “Rolls-Royce Bulletin” and “On the Road.” Pictures of these magnificent cars appear in the most entrancing surroundings, and make you wish you had both the cars and the leisure to visit these attractive places. In these publications I seem to see the influence of Mr. Millard Buckley, who is responsible for the tasteful and luxurious Rolls-Royce and Bentley catalogues. Mr. Buckley swings a very pretty Leica at times, and I expect that some of his pictures helped to swell the collection.
At the end of last month there was a big rally of motoring men and women at the wedding of Miss Doreen Evans, who was duly wed at St. George’s, Hanover Square. The lucky bridegroom was Allan Phipps, who is going to sweep her off to Denver, U.S.A., after they have had a last race, at any rate for some time, in the T.T. at Belfast. I hope Miss Evans will not attempt any of that dirt-track stuff when she is over in America. According to most of the photographs we receive in the office the cars never run on more than three wheels at a time, conditions which are more than the most skilful English driver can cope with.
Another motorist who was recently married was Charlie Martin, and we offer him somewhat belated congratulations both on this and his second place in the Deauville Grand Prix.
I had a visit at the office the other day from J. R. Davenport, a distant relation of the Shelsley wizard, who is the owner of an historic motor-car. This is, in fact, the only remaining one of the four-cylinder Talbot-Darracqs which used to sweep all before them ten or eleven years ago. Unfortunately this car had a very exciting career afterwards at Southport (Mr. Davenport is still finding sand in various parts of the chassis) and there was hardly anything left of the old engine. Nothing daunted, he fitted it with a blown Lea-Francis engine, and still has fun with it at speed trials. He had planned installing a V8 Ford engine in it during the winter, as the old Meadows does not seem to appreciate a No. 10 blower, but now finds he has to go abroad to Hong-Kong and defend the Empire instead. It seems to me that someone ought
to make a collection of historic cars like this, the old eight-cylinder Ballot and other world-beaters of their time. Forward, enthusiasts with much money and a large garage in the country.
Five Hundred Miles
As happens in August, every year, the regulations for the 500-mile race form the tail-piece for these
notes. The handicap times vary from 107.1 m.p.h. for the 750 c.c. cars, to 124.5 for the unlimited class, which is going some, and all cars have to be capable of lapping at over 100 m.p.h. First prize is the Wakefield Trophy and .,.250, entry fee is £16 up to August 4th, with a closing date of September 1st. The race takes place on Saturday, September 19th, and the small cars are sent off at 1 p.m.
Hot from the postman I have a few particulars of the new 11-litre Maserati. The bore and stroke of the six cylinders is 65 by 75 mm., giving a capacity of 1,493 c.c. A Rootes No. 1 blower is used, driven at engine speed and gives 18 lb. pressure, the compression ratio being 5.5 to 1. The engine gives 175 h.p. at 6,550 r.p.m., and the devastating thing is that the engine has only two main bearings, and these plain. The track is 4 ft. 1 in., and the wheelbase 8 ft. 2 in. unfortunately the Fratelli have omitted to furnish us with the weight. That will be all for the present.