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A Promising Hill-Climb Venue
IT seems that next season the shortage of speed hillclimb venues may be augmented by the advent of Prescott, which estate is now the property of the Bugatti Owners’ Club. It will be recalled that about two years ago the Club planned to make Dancer’s End a first-class hill-climb venue, and obtained approval from the landowner, Alan P. Good. Unfortunately, the noise nuisance, which is a disease not unknown to motor-race course promoters, broke out and the project was reluctantly abandoned, although the Berkhamsted and District M.C. continue to hold their occasional meetings at Dancer’s End apparently unmolested. But the Council of the Bugatti Owners’ Club lay low and said practically nothin’, and now it has been able to announce the purchase of Prescott House, situated in beautiful country close to Cleeve Hill, only five miles from Cheltenham and ninety miles from London. There it is proposed to build a firstclass hill-climb course, at which it is hoped that two open and one Club meeting will be possible next season. It is also hoped that the house within the grounds may be converted into a small but convenient country club, and that, apart from being a useful centre from which to tour the beautiful Cotswold country surrounding, it will also form an admirable finishing point for the Club’s Opening Rally, Honiton Rally and Welsh Trial. The present plans aim at a course of 1,000 yards (almost as long as Shelsley), with a hairpin bend and two other acute bends on an average gradient of 1 in 20. The width would be 15 ft., and 20 ft. at the corners, and there would be a return road from the finish to the Paddock. The house is built of mature Cotswold stone, with an old weathered stone roof, and is surrounded by rose-beds and wellkept lawns and magnificent old trees, enclosed by enormous yew hedges. The stone outhouses have oak doors with wrought-iron strap hinges, and over the end stable is the Cipher and Coronet of Edward, Earl of Ellenborough, who owned the property up to 1871. The dining-room is oak-panelled and the drawingTOM runs the whole length of the house and commands
a magnificent view over the Cotswolds. There is a dairy in what was once an old chapel and two stone cottages near the house.
It certainly seems that the Bugatti Owners’ Club has something very attractive to offer its members and prospective members, and that Prescott is likely to become one of our greatest speed hill-climb venues and country motor-sporting centres. The total sum needed for reconstruction is c„4,500, to realise which an issue is being made of C5 debentures carrying 41 per cent. per annum interest. We wish this ambitious undertaking well, because courses where real speed hill-climbs in, the good old style can be held are few and far between ; and, moreover, we are very fond of the Cotswold country. Those interested are urged to support the scheme at once, so that work can commence early, for however promising the plans, postponement for over a year from the time of announcem -!nt would do no good at all.
Interest in the new Grand Prix cars grows daily and it does seem as if we shall soon be back in the palmy days when there is a whole host of new G.P. cars and when rumours and facts concerning their construction are freely bandied about long before race-day. Mercedes-Benz apparently have a ‘blown 3-litre engine undergoing bench-tests and hope to complete the car by the end of the year. The chassis is expected to follow 1937 design, perhaps with offset transmission, as on the latest I 2-cylinder cars, to per mit lower seating. Auto-Union will build a blown 3-litre, rumoured strongly to be rear-engined, von Eberhorst agreeing that this type stands the best chance under the new formula, and they will, like Mercs., also have unblown it-litre cars, said to be 24-cylinder jobs. Delahaye will have unblown V12 41-litre cars of the kind already in existence, with boxsection chassis, front transverse leaf-spring independent suspension, overslung half-elliptic rear suspension, and single-seater bodywork. The engine has two plugs per cylinder supplied by twin magnetos, and it is very interesting that four valves are used per cylinder, a reversion to a mice-popular practice. Three Solex downdraught carburetters feed via exposed pipes, the twin fuel pumps being at the front of the engine. These cars will be used by the Ecurie Blue, a private stable. Bugatti will race his new twin o.h. camshaft unblown 41-litre, with conventional suspension and well-faired bodywork. M. Lago, of Talbots, is known to have a design for a blown 3-litre V16, and Maserati is said to have an improved chassis in hand, to take the existing supercharged, twincam, V8 type of engine. M. Jana having left Alfas, and the Italian company having severed connection with Ferrari, their racing future is uncertain, but everyone will hope to see Formula Alfas running next season. Great ‘Britain will be represented by the E.R.A., either modified Zoller-blown 2-litres, or a new 3-litre. The appearance of the marque, no matter what its fortunes, should seal the popularity of the new sports E.R.A. soon to be announced. Then Bugatti has a blown 3-litre, which Wimille will probably be testing at Montlhery by now. Fiat may race indirectly, Isotta-Fraschini or Fiat may have Ja,no’s services, and the Ferrari stable is working on a new car designed by Bazzi, who was Jana’s right-hand man. Mere&lesBenz and Auto-Union are expected to do their pre liminary testing at Monza this year. All intensely
interesting. If we do not have another war . . .
The 1938 Formula races are as follows :—Tunis G.P., May 8th ; Tripoli G.P., May 15th; Indianapolis 500, U.S.A., May 30th; Eifelrennen, June 12th; Hungarian G.P., June 19th ; French G.P., Rheims, July 3rd ; Vanderbilt Cup, U.S.A., July 4th ; Monaco G.P., Aug. 7th ; Coppa Acerbo, Aug. 14th; Swiss G.P., Aug. 21st; Italian G.P., Sept. 11th; Masaryk G.P., Sept. 25th. The Donington. G.P. on October 1st may be a Formula Libre event ; Craner has not finally decided. The German G.P. is definitely to be a Formula Libre race.
So far as drivers are concerned, Monneret and Layer, the French racing motor-cyclists, have been tried out at Montlhery on a Delahaye by Louis Chiron.
The Value of the Rally
F. L. M. Harris, Secretary of the M.G. C.C., has recently attacked the organisers of the Monte Carlo Rally, and has suggested that they have set out to exclude the true sporting motorist in order that tradeowned barouches of concours type may figure more prominently in the results. That seems a cruel judgment. The Trade is allowed to enter for the Monte Carlo Rally, just as it is allowed to put up teams of special small sports cars against private owners in. club-organised trials. But the regulations for next year’s Rally, prohibiting open bodywork and superchargers, at least aim at attracting fairly normal cars, and thereby allow ordinary mortals a better chance of success than before. More than that, the final test has been modified to prohibit advantage being taken of freak fittings, and freak cars. If certain entrants go to the expense of having non-standard bodywork of wafer-thin aluminium, you can hardly blame the organisers, nor can you expect them to stipulate absolute standard cars when organisers ever since motor-competitions began have said that to ensure that catalogue models really do compete in cataloguecar events is asking too much of any judge and panel of scrutineers. Mr. Harris further suggests that the great winter Rally is just a rather stupid way of focusing attention on de-frosting apparatus and nonskid chains. He must have forgotten the innumerable lessons learned, and remembered, by all who have to prepare chassis, and prepare or construct coachwork, for this classic event. Electrical systems have improved from lessons so learned, likewise the location of toolkits and the popularity of one-shot chassis lubrication and built-in jacks. Moreover, the results of the Rally are a sure guide to car stamina and performance qualities. If he doesn’t believe that, let Mr. Harris ask himself how many cars fail on hills in our own” Edinburgh” trial that they would have climbed before making the long run up to those hills. In contrast, the Monte Carlo organisers ask you to drive 2,300 miles at a stiff average, cover the last 680 miles at over 31 m.p.h., including the climb of the Col. de la Croix Haute, and then take part in eliminating tests calling for excellent acceleration and good braking. We imagine the M.G. Car Co. Ltd. would be very pleased to see their cars do well in this contest. Entries close on December 24th, at 1,000 francs for light cars, 1,250 francs for large cars, half fees returnable to non-starters. British enthusiasts should note that this time John o’Groats is a favoured startingpoint. They can make out ordinary cheques in francs and obtain all particulars from the International
Sporting Club, Monte Carlo. Up to now the entries include : Mme. Cornelius (D.K.W.), Gastonides and Van Hunt (Riley), Dr. van Eijk (Lincoln Zephyr), Westerman and Smalt (Ford), Bakker Schut (Ford), Mutsaerta (Ford), Van Strien (Ford), Trevoux (Hotchkiss), dos Santos (I,ancia), and Dr. Si filet (—). Hurry up, Britain !
Irish Motor-Racing Politics
The Ulster A.C. is very concerned over the loss of the T.T. This club was formed to promote race events, and it is believed that this year the Club account is likely to show a deficit for the first time in five years, ascribable to the loss of the T.T. A Committee was recently appointed, composed of Messrs. W. W. M`Leod, C. G. Neill, H. A. Bryson and Capt. J. W. Thomson, to endeavour to bring back the T.T. to Ulster, full support having been assured by the Trustees of the Ulster Race Fund. The R.A.C. has pronounced the Ards circuit impossible, in view of increased building on the circuit and its passage through Newtown ards and Comber. The Carryduff-Saintfield circuit is impossible because the three-mile stretch out of Saintfield village would require widening and resurfacing, at a cost of at least £20,000, and, furthermore, it could not be remade before 1939. The Ulster G.P. motor-cycle course is a possibility, if sanction could be obtained to close the roads for longer than the three
days at present allowed. There is another course between Glengormley and Templepatrick, but it is devoid of contours and an abundance of curves, which, so far as race circuits are concerned, is a disadvantage. Another circuit is that north of Lisburn, of 9i miles and very fast. The Ulster A.C. will endeavour to interest the R.A.C. in these circuits and approach the Antrim C.C. and the Government for sanctions. All this raises a pretty problem, because Donington deserves the 1938 race if it wants to have it, the R.A.C. rather favours the I.O.M., and Ireland should have some reward for its keenness to have the T.T. and its recognition of the value of the race to Ulster. Perhaps, after all, the R.A.C. has been wise to hint at the possibility of holding over our most important sports car-race until difficulties relating to its organisation disperse. Meanwhile, the Ulster A.C. has appointed another committee to investigate the possibilities of obtaining its own club premises in Ulster, which is deemed necessary to sustain interest in club motoring, which has threatened to decline since the loss of the T.T.
An analysis in the “Ulster Motoring Review” discloses that Irish race-entries have declined from 131 in 1934 to 120 in 1937, after peaking at 174 in 1936. This decline is attributed to abandonment of the Limerick race, late arrangements for the Ballyclare race, owing to change of course, the institution of a class handicap at Cork, and the fact that one of the Phcenix Park races was changed to a scratch race, together with loss of cross channel entries on account of activities at Donington, Brooklands, and the Crystal Palace. It appears that a director of the Irish Hospitals Trust is putting up £5,000 for the 1938 Cork race, but apparently that sum has been paid to the Cork and D. M.C. and not to the Irish Motor
Racing Club, and neither body bad confirmed the rumour by last month. If the aim is to obtain Continental entries, the sooner the money is allocated the better it will be.
Both Sides of the Picture
When I met him at Brooklands the other day, Waddy was feeling rather bitter because his Fuzzi had been excluded from a road-circuit race at the closing B.A.R.C. Meeting, when Miss Richmond was to have driven it, by order of the scrutineers. Waddy was apparently given no definite reason for his car’s exclusion and was subsequently told that if reasons were to be given a fee would be payable to the Brook lands scrutineer. Now, on the face of it, that gives rise to unpleasantness, or would do if one did not know Mr. Percy Bradley or Hugh McConnell. Knowing these gentlemen, there can be no question of a plot to obtain additional fees in return for telling a raceentrant in what way his car is unsafe. It all amounts to the fact that the scrutineer, whose experience of cars presented for racing is unique, knows almost at once whether or not a car is safe. In most cases he can point out his reason or reasons for exclusion, and does so. But sometimes a case may arise when he knows a car to be unsuited to the race in question on a combination of causes. In cases of this nature it is often advisable to exclude the car without detailing
his findings and conclusions. That is a scrutineer’s privilege and to act in this way casts no reflection on his abilities and efficiency. The matter of a fee being due before his reasons are stated then resolves into the scrutineer acting as a consulting engineer and examining the car to give an engineer’s report as to what must be done before he can pass this particular car. As such an examination occupies an expert’s valuable time, just as it would that of an outside consulting engineer, the scrutineer is entitled to his fee. The difficulty arises in convincing the unfortunate entrant, who has lost his entry fee and has a temporarily useless car, that a car can be fairly condemned as unsafe during an examination that is yet too brief to disclose in detail all the modifications necessary to render the car safe to race. Yet common sense must show that this can be so. For example, a car may have much of its weight in the wrong place, and prove unstable under braking or when accelerating, which is sufficient reason for exclusion, but how the components must be rearranged, or whether alteration of wheelbase and track alone, can render it safe, is a matter for an expert’s considered attention. Again, a braking system may be quite obviously liable to cable breakage, yet no one would expect a scrutineer, with much work to do, to say exactly how much of the layout needed redesigning and, especially as engineers, like doctors, do not always agree, a scrutineer would he justified in such a case in keeping his reason for exclusion to himself. Percy Bradley is as helpful a Clerk of the Course as anyone could wish So we hope Waddy will overcome those weaknesses of Puzzi’s that are deemed to bold in jeopardy the safety-factor at Brooklands, and pay his entry-fee to the B.A.R.C. like a man again next year. We sincerely sympathise with Joan and Waddy in
this disappointment, rendeted all the more bitter because Fuzzi is Waddy’s own handiwork and he believes it to be constructionally beyond reproach.
Fred Dixon’s Theories
Freddie Dixon has released some of his proposals for a 12-litre car to break the world’s flying mile and kilometre records, standing to the credit of George Eyston at over 311 m.p.h. Dixon would employ a 24-cylinder wobble-plate engine, working on the twostroke cycle. He would blow this engine moderately and install it in a four-wheel drive, all-independently sprung frame of tubular-backbone construction. Four wheel steering of highly unconventional layout and progressively self-locking differentials are contemplated. The body would be dart-shaped, with the driving compartment ahead of the front axle, and a
frontal area of only 4 square feet. Such a record attempt would be extremely interesting and of great value to British prestige if successful, but, though we in no way doubt Dixon’s abilities, it would seem that a vast amount of untrodden ground is evidenced by the designs and that much experimental work would form an expensive preliminary. Dixon is anxious to hear from persons who would assist financially in his scheme, but, while we have a motoring public which would feel aghast if asked to contribute one pound a year to a British Grand Prix team, one can only suggest that, should such persons be forthcoming, Dixon’s luck can be said to be phenomenal.
The Veteran Car Club, feeling that the happenings amongst their 200 or more members receive insufficient attention, will commence next month the issue of a club magazine.
R. G. J. Nash has been importing more pre-war aeroplanes to Brooklands from France, including a Gordon Bennett racing Bleriot.
The announcement last month, in the article “In Gay Paris,” that the M.G. C.C. ran a special trip to the exhibition, was rather premature, as this expedition was abandoned from lack of support.
Andrew Leitch entered an interesting newcomer in the Veteran Run, in the form of a 1900 Begot and Mazurie.
We know of an early Brush car, largely in pieces, that is for sale.
K. N. Hutchison’s well known Ford V8 Special, which has been very successful in recent trials, is now for sale. Is Hutch getting an Allard-Special ?
The Mechanics’ Club will hold another dinner on January 15th, at the Wharncliffe Rooms.
Mrs. Kay Petre is making a remarkable recovery from her Brooklands accident.
The Austin” Grasshopper “trials cars are apparently using the racing s.v. engines and it is said that they can beat special trials Ford V8s in acceleration over a quarter-mile. New Riley and Austin sports models. are rumoured to be on the way.
Owen Nares, the actor, has taken delivery of a new Chrysler.
Rumour has it that the new V12 Lagonda has achieved 106 m.p.h. on test, with limousine bodywork.
The twelfth Mille Miglia is being enthusiastically organised by Count Mazotti. The course will be much the same as before, entries will be divided into blown and unblown car classes, and the date is April 3rd, 1938. Alfa-Romeo, Delahaye, Talbot and Maserati are probable starters in this great sports-car road race. There is 200,000 lire in prize-money.
In view of the recent correspondence in MOTOR SPORT on the subject of steam cars, it is interesting to. note that Abner Doble, the famous steam-car engineer, stated recently in “The Autocar ” that ” . . . to produce such a car, and to market it successfully, requires intelligent executive ability and much money.”
Contrary to what we said last month, it appears that the Southsea M.C. will have the use of their speedtrial course again next year, probably in much improved form. This club has recently been re-organised and has ambitious plans for the future.
Lunch is now served daily at the Motor Sports Club at 1/6 per head to members and friends, Sundays excepted.
Interest is lent to the Ford Enthusiasts’ Club Xmas. Trial as S. H. Allard and K. N. Hutchison are the organisers in chief, taking a hand in organising an event of the kind they so greatly enjoy as competitors. Entries close on December 20th.
H.R.H. Prince Pratap-Singh has taken delivery of a Phantom III Rolls-Royce with Windover coachwork upholstered in leopard skin.
Nuvolari, Varzi, Brivio, Pintacud a, Trossi, Tardini, and Fagioli have been declared first rank drivers for 1938 by the R.A.C.I.
The Kentish Border C.C. obtained an entry of seventy for their recent Sporting Trial, which rather sets a standard for the smaller clubs.
Sam Clutton’s antique Itala was recently involved in a garage fire, but was fortunately rescued with. blistered paintwork the only damage.