PETER CLARK ON HIS H.R.G. TEAM
AT the October meeting of the North London Enthusiasts’ Car Club, held at St. Ermyn’s, Westminster, a talk on “Sports Car Racing” was given jointly by Peter Clark and Marcus Chambers. Illustrating his remarks with upwards of 80 photographs, Peter Clark took his audience behind the scenes of the 1948 racing season. He apologised in advance if there was too much reference to Clark and his H.R.G., remarking that as a competitor one got precious little chance to notice what other people were up to. The first photos, in point of fact, were devoted to 1947, and showed what the speaker described as the “basic minimum equipment” for taking one car to a race abroad : a Riley Nine saloon and a very well-laden trailer. Peter and Marcus first ran together at Le Mans in 1938, and most emphatically they are not among those who set off in the actual racing car with just a couple of extra spare wheels lashed on the tail and a tiny suitcase on the top. Peter referred more than once to the way in which administrative complications tend to rise “as to the sivare of the number of vehicles and personnel involved,” and mentioned a few of the difficulties encountered as his equipe got bigger every time, finally culminating in four racing cars, two Utilities, two small “hack” motor cars and a large lorry which the H.R.G. team took to Montlhery in September. It is another known Clarkism that “nothing in life is static, ” it either gets bigger or nd smaller all the •time, so we woer
what we can expect of him in 1949. [Incidentally, we believe he once observed “never let the ladies go with you,” but many of his photographs suggest that he has changed this Opinion! —En.]
Two H.R.G.s—Clark’s and Jack Scott’s —ran at Chimay on May 16th, and these same cars ran again, still carrying their full regulation sports-car equipment, ten days later in the Isle of Man, where they proved steady and reliable, but not nearly fast enough by comparison with stripped racing cars. Some people may well have thought this was a curious choice of races, and it was interesting, therefore, to hear Peter say that it was done quite deliberately, to test the effects of three weeks’ “cumulative physical and nervous fatigue” on his personnel— as well as to give a first practical airing to the Pye two-way radio sets. In the course of the expedition covering these two races, Chambers rebuilt two gearboxes and a back axle and carried out two engine top overhauls (including a change of camshaft), all with materials and equipment carried by the team. Turning to Spa (Belgian 24-Hour Race), where H.R.G. team won the team prize of Coupe du Roi, Peter told us about the publicity angle which, especially abroad, is an important part of motor racing, and stated that in his opinion the whole team must be prepared to work just as hard at this as at every other aspect of the game. As Marcus said later on, the Englishman, both by nature and by education, tends to think self-advertisement is pretty bad form and a sign of personal conceit : the ideal team should, therefore, carry a ” P.R.O.” whose sole duty it is quite heartlessly, to attend to these affairs. Viewed in this light, he hoped it would not sound unspeakably ” precious ” when he said that, “early in 1948, we decided, if there was no
Le Mans, to win the Coupe du Roi.” The possibility of not winning it was simply not discussed.
Let it be hastily said that Clark and Chambers do not, for one instant, pose as the “great maestros” of sports-car racing. On the occasion in question they answered all manner of questions with complete frankness and not a little selfcriticism, and our only regret was that question time had to be cut very short indeed. The speakers had planned to give at least half an hour, but owing to a slight blockage in the fuel supplies of liquid refreshments, the meeting started twenty minutes late and lost further time when, for the same reason, the mid-evening interval extended itself alarmingly. As a result, the management wanted to shut the hotel, and people were dashing for last buses and trains, whilst Peter was still defending himself bravely against advocates of fluid brakes and i.f.s. Two very interesting points he did. make were that the gasket failure at Spa was caused by weak mixture, occasioned through asking the S.U. fuel pumps to force fuel through the filters, whereas these pumps prefer infinitely to suck from the filter. Also, emphasis Was placed on the brake problems to which aerodynamic bodywork gives rise, the brakes being loaded about twice as heavily as when normal bodies are used, for several very good reasons. Clark found that if linings which improved as brake temperatures rose were used, the drums wore out, but that if he reverted to linings possessing a known fadefactor, then the brakes faded out far too soon and at Montlhery would only just survive the road-circuit before the cooling influence of the ” outer ” was resumed.