Continental Sunday at Brands Hatch

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64

The golden autumn Sunday of October 14th was the occasion of a BRSCC Race Meeting at Brands Hatch, attended by a crowd of 37,000 and given a Continental atmosphere by the beautiful girls who presented certain of the prizes—tall, slim, blonde Mrs KM Whitworth kissing Peter Gammon on both cheeks after his victory in the F II race, while Petula Clark kissed Archie Scott-Brown on the mouth and rode away beside him after he had won the Fibre-glass Handicap—and the fanfare of car horns as the victors made their laps of honour.

There were some F III races, in which the only accident happened, Plummer’s Iota overturning on the inside as it approached Paddock Bend, probably due to swerving to avoid a stricken competitor who was creeping along the outside of the course at this point with a rear suspension radius-arm adrift. Luckily, Plummer wasn’t badly hurt. S Lewis-Evans won the Sporting Life Trophy final in his Cooper-Norton, at 72.68 mph, and set fastest F III lap, at 60.2 mph. 

CAS Brooks beat Bueb to win the F II race in his Cooper-Climax at 73.73 mph, but Brabham, whose Climax engine in his Cooper blew up while he was lying second, set a new class lap record of 75.15 mph. Gammon then drove in similar impeccable style to secure victory in the 1,100-cc sports-car race, winning at 70.43 mph, from Hill’s Lotus-Climax.

Fibre-glass-bodied cars competed in a Concours d’Elegance, parading the circuit, and many of them took part in a Fibre-glass Handicap, which Scott-Brown’s Elva-Climax took, at 68.76 mph, from S Lewis-Evans’ Cooper-Norton and Horridge’s Lister-Bristol, the Cooper making fastest lap, at 74.65 mph. Gerard drove his Turner in this race.

The highlight of the afternoon was the 15-lap F I race, in which four immaculate Connaughts driven by Brooks, Lewis-Evans, Leston and Fairman met Salvadori in the Maserati and lesser cars. The cars in the front row were tightly packed across the little 1.24mile course and as the flag fell it was impressive to see Brooks making small but essential movements of his steering wheel to control his Connaught as it tried to slide sideways into the car next to it—no wild sawing action here ! Salvadori made a masterful start but the imperturbable Scott-Brown forced past going into Paddock Bend on the second lap and ran well away from the rest, to win at 73.79 mph, after establishing a new lap record of 75.66 mph. Lewis-Evans, on his first drive in a GP car, was outstanding. It took him nine laps to edge past the more cautious Leston, then he went after Salvadori, who drove rather hunched up, troubled that the Maserati wasn’t in its element on this circuit, and took Salvadori on lap 12, to finish a splendid second, Salvadori third.

Press arrangements only concern the public inasmuch as the better they are the better reports the layman can expect. Brands Hatch is to be warmly congratulated on having a proper glass fronted Press-box (which Silverstone has not !) giving a view of almost the entire circuit, supplemented by a generous open-air enclosure. The parking arrangements, for Press and public alike, require revision—but we shall go to Brands again, no doubt on Boxing Day.—WB.

Power in the USA.

John Murray, of the Car Engineering Department of the Chrysler Corporation, recently gave some interesting details about the 340-bhp, 354-cu in Chrysler 300B 90-degree V8 passenger-car engine in an article in Sports Car, the beautifully-produced bi-monthly journal of the Sports Car Club of America.

He traced the origin of the Chrysler 300B engine to the 1951 Chrysler Firepower V8, which gave 180 bhp. Enthusiasts began to tune this engine for racing at Le Mans, Watkins Glen, Bonneville, Elkhart Lake and Indianapolis, and the successes gained led Chrysler to introduce the 300 in 1955. This year the 340-bhp version followed.

Development work, explains Mr Murray, commenced in the late nineteen-thirties. including testing of sleeve and rotary-valve engines. The hemispherical combustion chamber, using poppet valves, showed the only real promise of advancement, and its shortcomings of exhibiting ronghness, requiring high-octane fuels and being difficult or impossible to mass produce were tackled.

Incidentally it is interesting that Mr Murray quotes the Welch engine of 1904 as one of the first with a hemispherical head, and Stutz, Duesenberg, Miller and Offenhauser as developing it, whereas European authorities cite the Pipe of 1904 (Pomeroy) and the Fiat of 1905 (Clutton), usually quoting Peugeot, Miller, Bugatti, Jaguar and Aston Martin as descendants.

One of Chrysler’s experiments in developing the 300B engine was to build for Firestone a 331 cu in racing engine which gave over 400 bhp at 5,200 rpm, and is claimed to have reached 170 mph and run 1,450 tyre-testing miles with no mechanical adjustment, not even a change of plugs.

Hemispherical combustion chambers were achieved by the use of double oh rockers, twin oh camshafts being considered unsuitable for mass-production. The power increase from 300 to 300B was obtained by using two four-barrel carburetters and a camshaft giving 0.063 in greater inlet valve lift and 0.078 in greater exhaust valve lift, valve overlap being doubled (60 deg instead of 30 deg) by 280 deg instead of 252 deg inlet duration, and 270 deg instead of 244 deg exhaust duration. As the 300B peaks at 600 rpm more than the standard Firepower engine (5,200 rpm instead of 4,600 rpm) the hydraulic tappets were changed for mechanical tappets, adjustment being at the rocker arms. Double in place of single valve springs, different push-rods, valve inserts, babbitt/ copper-lead/steel big-end and main bearings instead of babbitt/steel bearings and a hardened crankshaft are the other differences. Recently a 10-to-1 compression-ratio head was introduced (normal is 9 to 1), which pushes the output from 340 to 355 bhp without increase of crankshaft speed. Torque is raised from 385 lb/ft to 405 lb/ft at 3,200-3,600 rpm. A Chrysler 300B covered a flying mile at Daytona Beach at 139.373 mph during a NASCAR meeting.—WB.

To the wives of motormaines of racing

(God help them . . .)

The motortomaines of racing are a breed that’s quite apart.

They have veins filled up with petrol, and a mythene-driven heart,

But we wives sit in the background, in our weary little rows.

Hear again that conversation, this is surely how it goes :

“Well, was it a brave Ferrari that won that special race ?

And did all the British drivers quite quickly fall from grace ?

I remember that the Vanwall was there within the crowd.

And the BRM’s new engine was roaring fierce and loud.

Was Roy Salvadori driving ? Was Stirling at the wheel ?

Was Fangio rounding corners with nerves of tempered steel ?

Did Brooks and Castellotti drive with tearing, skidding tyres?

Was Hawthorn mending his engine with a pair of gilt-edged pliers ? “

It’s all such a curious business, but I’ll not ask again

Why this suicidal gamble should fascinate our men.

For the poor dears think we’re crackers, and they’re of course quite sane.

And if we should try to reason, oh see that look of pain.

The motortomaines have pictures of every vintage joy,

They talk cars to friends and bosses, and people they employ.

They wear duffle coats with oil spots, and dreadful patterned caps.

And what d’you think they dream of when they take their nightly naps ?

Yes, it’s Connaughts on the one side, Gordinis on the other.

And a stark green Cooper-Bristol being driven well by Mother.

Oh, the pop of each exhaust note is music to each ear

They’re out to look at every single engine that they hear.

Yes, it’s Goodwood time in April, and Silverstone in June,

I wonder if there’s racing on the planet Mars or Moon ?

For a good Mercurian space car, with a Moon-man name of Joe

Would be quite a hit in autumn at the British Motor Show.

But it’s hard on us poor women who so rarely do complain

And are getting sick of picnics in the drizzle and the rain.

For whenever we’re convinced that, here’s a weekend we’ll enjoy,

Sure as fate before it’s Friday, with a smile that’s cute and coy,

We’ll just happen to hear mention of a day at Oulton Park.

Then, it’s macs and scarves and fur boots. honey—

WHAT A B….. LARK !

 —Shiela M Richardson