No Signs of Hibernation.
IDON’T know whether times have changed, but the winter months, which in England some years ago seemed as far removed from motor racing as they would be in the Arctic Circle, nowadays simply seethe with activity. Drivers cross continents in search of cars for next season, Club Secretaries think out more ingenious courses for next year’s events, and altogether prospects for next season are very encouraging.
More Mannin Races.
The Don and Mathieson cases have tended to make the Isle of Man less popular with racing drivers than it might have been, rather unnecessarily so, perhaps, as neither of the two incidents have any direct bearing on the conditions under which the competitors drive. Anyhow, the R.A.C. are not being upset by them, and Captain Phillips was preparing directly after the Veteran’s Run to dart across to the Isle of Man and fix up next year’s races. Fortunately the aeroplane services are running in the winter, otherwise “roll over” might have been more appropriate.
The course will probably be much the same, though the local authorities want to utilise the T.T. Grandstands, setting the Scoring Boards on the Cemetery wall with the pits underneath. The motor-cycle pits are, of course, much too small. There are rumours of the first day being devoted to T.T. cars, with a scratch race on the second day ; but the course somehow seems a little unsuitable for large semi-touring cars. The 1935 races are scheduled for May 29th and 31st.
A Modified “Empire Trophy.”
It is notoriously difficult to plan “road circuits” on Brooklands, and I understand the Empire Trophy course on Broaklands, with its two ” snakes ” and the slow series of corners at the fork, will be materially altered next year.
The railway ” snake ” will be retained, but instead of encountering an obstacle at the bottom of the banking at the end of the Finishing Straight, the cars will run down the latter as far as the Clubhouse, and then will return round a hairpin bend back to the Members’ Banking. The turns at the Fork will also be speeded up, and a proposed new stand will allow spectators to see something of the racing at that point.
The E.R.A. Team.
After the year of development and alteration which every new make requires, the E.R.A.s are functioning very prettily, and Raymond Mays has made ambitious plans for next season. Rose-Richards and Mathieson have each bought a 1 A-litre car, and the team will consist of these two drivers and Mays himself. Humphrey Cook may drive occasionally, and Staniland will sometimes take Mathieson’s place, and there are on the 1935 Calendar a sufficient number of races with classes for cars under litres to keep the team fully occupied.
Business and other considerations make it unlikely that all three drivers will be in action together in any one race, but the marque will be represented in Great Britain at the International and Empire Trophies, the two Shelsley meetings and the Isle of Man races ; while abroad they are to be entered in the Monaco Grand Prix, the Avus Race, the Swiss, Dieppe and the Maseryk Grands Prix, and also at Pescara. Mays is concentrating on the 11-litre size, but will use the 2-litre or the 1,100c.c. cars in races where these capacity limits are in force. The same chassis is used in each case, and any of the three power units may be used in it. Four cars are now finished and another two or more will be built. Towards the end of 1935 a car with a larger engine may be built, but as the present racing formula has only two years to run, Mays is doubtful whether the expense of producing a 3 or 4 litre unit is justified. The new G.P. formula will probably limit the capacity of the cars, in which case the experience gleaned by the E.R.A. people in building small-engined cars should put them in a very favourable position. At the moment, incidentally, it is not intended to sell the cars to outside ‘drivers.
Records on Brooklands.
The Standing Mile is one of the most difficult of records, especially with a car as light as the E.R.A., and Mays had some interesting things to say about the difficulties of capturing it on Brooklands. In the first place, apart from initial wheel-spin, the car has to cross the timing strip, which is covered over by a smooth rubber mat, and which naturally does not afford much wheel-grip. The start was made in second gear, then as the back wheels crossed the rubber, third was engaged, and the sharp jolt which the self
changing gear-box can be made to provide was helpful in getting the car ” unstruck.” A side wind made the light E.R.A. difficult to hold, but all went well, the only unpleasantness being when the car came on to the curving Bvileet Banking at some 140 m.p.h.
At Brooklands, unlike most other record-breaking venues, the time for two-way records is calculated from two successive runs, not from the best of several attempts, so it was “do or die” on the second run. From a central position on the Byfleet banking the car slid right down to the bottom as it got away, and Mays had to take his foot right off the pedal. In spite of this, however, E.R.A. took the record at 89.73 m.p.h., only to be deprived of it a week later by the Auto Union.
While on the subject, it’s worth mentioning that the supercharged Riley has been bought by Hodge, who drove a stream-lined Singer several times at Brooklands this year.
George Eyston Sits Back.
Montlhery will seem a different place during the next few months with G. E. T. Eyston not performing on it, but after his last phenomenal raids on the 1,100 c.c. records with the Magic Magnette, he thinks he is entitled to a little leisure. Except for ” filling in a few cracks” to improve streamlining, the car was unaltered from when it took part in the 500 miles race.
Before leaving France Eyston made an attempt to recapture, with the old Panhard, the hour record which Stuck had taken with the Auto Union, and the actual distance he covered was only a few yards short of that put up by the German driver, but at Montlhery the driver is only credited with the lap distance of the track half-way up the banking, which makes a difference of some 6 per cent. The Panhard lacks the acceleration needed to regain the record on the Avus road, where the bends at each end compel the car to slow down to 75 1140.11., and Eyston found that continued pounding round Montlhery caused the grand old car to lose some of its proverbial reliability and tune, so that further attempts had to be abandoned.
In the New Year he expects to get the A.E.C. Diesel under way again, but as the engine alone weighs 11 cwts. arid the complete car nearly 24 tons, the chassis and also the surface of Montlhery may have a bad time when the car is lapping at 120 m.p.h.
Single-seater 0-type Midgets.
Everitt and Kenneth Evans have both done some fast racing during the past season on their Q-type M.G. Midgets, so the latter driver has decided to get two more for .next season and fit them with single-seater bodies, SO if you see two objects like pale-blue paper-knives screaming past you on the track next year, you will know what they are. Meanwhile, to keep their hand in during the winter months, K.D., D.G. and their sister Miss Doreen Evans, are running a family team of N-type Nyignettes in the various big trials ; these will not be single-seaters ! _ ‘Wandsworth is apparently a very sporting neighbour
hood, and Denis Evans is crooning over an extension of the Bellevue Garage which has been specially dedicated to sPorts and racing tuning. The faithful Wilkinson will, of course, be in attendance.
Chops and Changes.
The game of General Post with drivers and cars is now proceeding, and here are some of my gleanings in this direction.
Tim Rose-Richards is selling the 2.3-litre Bugatti, but is keeping the 3-litre Maserati which Brian Lewis drove last year. Lindsay Eccles is parting with some of his Bugattis too, the 2-litre and the 2.3 single camshaft ones, but will naturally be retaining the new 11-litre he drove at Donington this year.
John Cobb is said to be getting rid of his 2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo, and Penn-Hughes finds that racing takes too much of his time, and intends selling the 2.6, confining his attention to ” simple ” events such as the T.T. and Le Mans. I haven’t yet heard that anyone over here has managed to secure a Monoposto Alfa, though I believe that some of them were offered to Noel Rees, so presumably Ferrari is holding on to them until the new ones are ready next June.
About this time of year those incurable enthusiasts who work for six months for two runs of 45 seconds at Shelsley are busy calculating how many rear wheels and how many horses they can bring together. Harker, who is one of the most enterprising of them, tells me that he is reducing the capacity of his engine to 1,100 c.c. by fitting short throw crank-shafts—you will remember that the car is fitted with a V8 engine in which the crank-shafts are geared together, and has two M.G. Midget cylinder blocks. He is also making a new and lighter chassis for it, so let’s hope the throttle won’t freeze open next time he shoots up to the bends. Apropos of twin wheels, I hear that these will not be allowed next year in the sports classes, and I hope the organisers will also take notice of the small tanks, unusual fuel, and other rather non-standard features more usually associated with the racing cars, which bring many of the competing sports cars almost into the racing category.
The Great Fog.
What did you do in the Great Fog, Daddy ? Answer : I got lost in Hyde Park, where the visibility was so poor that I drove over the pavement several times without being able to see the kerb, and finally turned off at what I thought was Grosvenor Gate, only to find that I had reached the Marble Arch. On the Monday and Tuesday nights it settled over London like an impenetrable yellow blanket, and demonstrated only too clearly how inadequate the average ” fog-light “is under really severe conditions. It was a great pity that the R.A.C. or the Monte Carlo Competitors’ Club had not been able to bottle up a few thousand cubic feet (or ought I to say therms ?) for testing fog-piercing equipment, and for training competitors taking part in this year’s Round Europe struggle.
Incidentally, I’ve just thought of a great scheme for the Rally. Behind my car I’m going to tow one of those beautiful asphalt-melting appliances with a brazier, a motor-driven blower and a hood to direct the hot air on to the road. Then when a tyre goes down or chains have to be fitted I shall arrange the funnel to warm me from behind, thus ensuring a nice warm atmosphere to work in, and making what was once the terror of a cold winter’s night into mere child’s play, as the advertisements say.
South African Bound.
A good many of us just now would welcome a Beaker full of the Warm South, and the road-race which the South Africans are organising near East London sounds great fun. The only European driver sofar competing isWhitney Straight, who tells me he has entered one of the Maseratis ; and, in fact, as I write the Cdr is leaving England with Ramponi and one of the mechanics. Straight himself is waiting for his new aeroplane, a Hendy Heck, with retractible undercarriage and all sorts of interesting gadgets, to be completed, and he will then follow, making the journey in about a week. One of the best rumours I had beard lately, incidentally, was that Straight had bought a Vickers Viastra mail carrier in which he and his car and the mechanics would all make the trip together ; and I pictured the annoyance of the owner if the ” Maser” broke loose from its lashings and took a header through the side of the plane into the African bush !
The race is a handicap event for all types of cars, and Straight’s young brother is taking part with his Railton Terraplane. I should imagine the back-markers will have an unenviable time pushing their way past large American roadsters. Before Straight sets off for Africa he is driving Trossi’s Duesenburg at Mont1h6ry, in an attempt on the World’s Hour Record, which is at the moment held by Stuck on the Auto Union, with a distance of 134.9 miles. Straight’s best lap at Brooklands was 138.15 m.p.h., and since the French track is both faster and smoother than -our own, he stands quite a chance of securing the record. The Hour Record demands the
highest degree of stamina both from the car and the driver, and if the American combination is successful, Straight will certainly deserve his, South African trip.
Motor Racing Art.
I found the exhibition of motor racing pictures by Ray Nockolds both interesting and amusing. Interesting because the show was a loan-exhibition, and I saw much of Nockolds’s work in oils that lucky owners normally have all to themselves, and amusing because of the reaction to the pictures shown by Chelsea” artists.”
I asked a particularly fierce specimen what he thought of the Show. After a contemptuous glance round he answered” There is only one picture here, that landscape with the trees—and that’s not by the same artist.” Nockolds had forgotten to sign that one !
Everyone has his own taste, and I was not surprised that Featherstonhaugh paid most attention to ” Grand Prix ” pictures. Esson Scott, on the other hand, automatically converged on anything with a” Bug” in it. It was interesting to see the originals of the four prints which hang in the homes of all good motor-racing ” fans.”
The exhibition is on until Christmas, at the Lombard Restaurant, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.