MOTORING SPORTSMEN. Mr. Kenelm Lee Guinness.
By THE EDITOR.
EVERYONE, who takes the slightest interest in the sporting side of motoring is more or less acquainted with some of the many incidents in the remarkable career of Mr. K. L. Guinness, and it is, therefore, interesting to place a short review of his brilliant additions to the history of motor racing before our readers.
Kenelm Guinness was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and, whilst still at the University, found scope for his natural inclinations towards engineering. Such time as he was able to spare from his studies was devoted to enlarging his already considerable knowledge of motor cars and during vacations he took part in various racing events.
His first real experience of speed was gained at the time when he acted as mechanic to his brother Algernon, now Sir Algernon Lee Guinness, and their handling of the 200-h.p. Darracq excited the admiration of the motoring world.
This early monster established the world’s record for speed on Saltburn Sands in the year 1908, when it put up the astounding figure of 120.26 miles per hour. Some of our readers may remember this remarkable car, which had an eight-cylinder Vee engine and a twospeed rear axle, no gear box being incorporated in the design. It normally required two persons to drive, and part of ” K.L.G.’s ” duty was to actuate a special pedal to hold the clutch in engagement when traveling at high speed. The huge Darracq competed successfully in this country and abroad. The first race in which Kenelm Guinness took the wheel was held in the Isle of Man and was a Consumption
Race for Touring Cars. In this event he drove a fourcylindered Darracq and, when in a good position, happened to look over the side of his car to find that one of the rear wheels was cheerfully careering along about two feet away from the car. On stopping, it ‘was discovered that the axle shaft had broken, which, of course, put” K.L.G. “out of the race.
The incident took place when travelling up the mountain road and, in those days, cooling was not so good as it is to-day. Therefore, to give his engine a chance, it was the practice for the mechanic to jump out of the car, run ahead to pick up water from a rivulet which crossed the road, then jump back into the car and fill up the radiator as the car sped along up the mountain.
Luck cannot be said to have favoured Kenelm Guinness’ early attempts for, in the first Pour Inch Race, the frame of his Hillman-Coatalen broke in two, whilst the car was at its maximum speed of about 70 miles per hour. Mr. Louis Coatalen was driving a similar vehicle in the .same race, which incidentally was the last road race in which he took part as driver.
Crashed in the 1913 Grand Prix.
Bad luck seems to have dogged Kenelm Guinness’ wheel tracks with great regularity and in 1913 he met with a spill that would have checked the enthusiasm of most aspirants to racing honours. The event in question was a Consumption Race held on the Amiens circuit, the winner being Georges Boillot or a Peugeot. Guinness was driving a six-cylinder Sunbeam and, when passing through the town of Bauves, crashed into a stone wall following the bursting of a tyre.
The force of the impact was so terrific that the car tore clean through the wall and tumbled down a steep bank, coming to rest in the river below. Neither the driver, nor Cook, the mechanic, suffered serious injuries though, as a matter of fact, they were extremely fortunate to escape with their lives.
Kenelm Guinness was never subject to “cold feet” and, in the same year, he took part in the Coupe de l’Auto at Boulogne and ran home third to Boillot and Goux. During the whole distance of 388 miles over a very difficult course, the wheels of Guinness’ Sunbeam never stopped and beside setting up an average speed of over 61 m.p.h., he won the special prize for regularity.
“K.L.G.” Wins the ” T.T.”
Kenelm Guinness’ first big win was in the year 1914, when he won his first Tourist Trophy race on a Sunbeam at an average speed of 56.44 m.p.h. No special incidents were recorded, except the wonderful regularity of the successive circuits, Harold Cook, who had accompanied
him in various Continental events previously, acting as his mechanic.
A Twelve Hour Record at Brooklands.
In the same year, K.L.G.” in. company with Chassagne and the late Dario Resta, established the Twelve Hours World’s Record on the six-cylinder Sunbeam, covering a distance of 1,078 miles. In 1914, also, he drove in the Grand Prix at Lyons, but had to retire with engine trouble, leaving the race to be won by Lautenscblager on a Mercedes.
The Origin of ” Plugs.
Having suffered with so much plug trouble in various long distance races, Kenelm Guinness began to pay serious attention to the design and construction of these
components, and, after trying experiments with every make available, came to the conclusion that there was room for a vast number of improvements. Consequently, he set about to make a plug of his own, the first example being made by hand in the cellar of the house’ which now forms part of the office block of the Robinhood Engineering Works, Ltd., at Kingston Vale.
Little by little, his plugs began to circulate amongst racing friends, until motorists became so insistent upon obtaining them, that their commercial manufacture could no longer be delayed.
Thus, motorists and aviators the world over are indebted to a sporting amateur for having solved the difficult problem of constructing a plug capable of standing up to the severe duties of high efficiency engines.
Joining up with the R.N.V.R. at the outbreak of the war, Kenelm Guinness saw active service at Dunkirk, but was recalled soon after to provide plugs for aeroplane engines. The change of work was not what he would have chosen, but there was no question as to which was the most useful service from the country’s point of view.
At the Wheel Again.
On the conclusion of the bit of a bother we had with Fritz, Guinness again turned his attention to motor racing, and in company with Boillot, Rene Thomas, and Segrave, went to Le Mans for the Grand Prix of 1921. He succeeded in finishing in this race, which was described by Murphy, who won on a Dusenberg, as more of a stone flinging competition than a race. ” K.L.G. “
had all sorts of engine and tyre trouble, and was nearly knocked out by a stone which hit him on the “funny bone.” The next missile, coming his way, put the car out of action for some time by knocking off the petrol filter.
In 1922, ” K.L.G.” undertook to drive the 450-h.p. Sunbeam which, up to then, had proved almost =manageable. With this monster car he was singularly successful, breaking all world’s records up to a distance of two miles and setting up the highest speed at that time ever travelled by anything on wheels, namely, 140.5 m.p.h.
In the Voiturette Race at Le Mans, 1922, ” K.L.G. ” was victorious at an average speed of 72.1 m.p.h., and set up a record lap for the course of 77.5. m.p.h. In this race, Divo on another Sunbeam led for twenty laps, the lead subsequently being taken by Guinness.
G. IN 9 2
G. IN 1 9 2
” K.L.G.” also won the Spanish Grand Prix in 1922, covering the 331 miles of the course at an average speed of 65.5 m.p.h. The Swiss Grand Prix of 1924 was another
of” “successes being won by him at an average speed of 70 m.p.h. over a course of 248 miles.
Team Travel De Luxe.
The next episode in the career of “K.L.G. ” was the occasion on which he used his private yacht “Ocean Rover,” to transport a team of racing cars to Barcelona and Sicily. The team comprised H. 0. D. Segrave, Chassagne and Kenelm Guinness, together with some French mechanics. Three Talbot-Darracq and two 44-litre Sunbeam cars were taken on this trip, the idea being to finish off the tuning of the cars during the trip. Father Neptune objected, however, with the result that all the French mechanics continually changed the contents of their fuel reservoirs instead of being able to work on the cars as arranged.
The trip was marked by a big success; for Guinness won the road race at Penya-Rhin, over a distance of 360 miles of terribly rough country, the late Count Zborowski being second on an Aston-Martin car.
In the 1922 Grand Prix at Tours, which was won by H. 0. D. Segrave, Kenelm Guinness was handicapped by clutch trouble and, during the race, Perkins, the well-known Sunbeam mechanic, acted with the greatest heroism. Digging a piece of copper wire out of the car when travelling, he tied one end on the clutch pedal and twisted the other end round his wrist. By pulling on the pedal hard he was able to prevent the clutch from slipping, but the obvious thing happened, and after a time the wire cut through his flesh causing him to faint from the pain. The car was stopped for Perkins to receive medical attention and Smith., another mechanic, took on his duties. Things were going as well as could be expected, until about the last lap, when the engine stopped altogether and it was only by the herculean efforts of Smith that it was started again in time to allow Guinness to run into the fourth place. Nearly all the valves had burnt out and” K.L.G.” wonders to this day what made the engine start at all.
Night driving has produced a new terror for the motorist who allows his headlights to dazzle other road users. Lorry drivers—especially those using the Coventry —London road—have taken matters into their own hands by steering straight at the oncoming ” dazzler ” and forcing him to slow down. Moral : Remember the other fellow’s difficulty and set your headlights so as to cause no offence.
A NEW CHRYSLER SIX.
The new Chrysler, which is expected to arrive in this country in March, will have a six cylinder engine developing 92 b.h.p. and a guaranteed speed of 80 m.p.h. The specification indicates several minor changes, which we hope includes an accurate speedometer.
After taking part in other classic Continental races, Kenelm Guinness was successful in winning the Grand Prix of 1924 at Geneva on a Talbot-Darracq and our readers will also remember his successes in the Two Hundred Miles Races at Brooklands. His last race was in 1924 at San Sebastian, where he had a very bad crash and, being completely knocked out, never knew how or why it happened.
” K.L.G.’s ” Plans for Future Racing.
After such a spill as that, it is only natural to expect a temporary retirement, but we are informed that “K.L.G.” has not given up racing and will appear on the road and track at a very early date.
His reappearance will be greatly welcomed by all who have admired his prowess in the past and his skill at the wheel proves that Continental drivers do not quite hold the monopoly where dash and judgment have to be combined in really high speed driving.
It may be mentioned that apart from his racing activities, ” K.L.G.” is kept busily employed in running the works which produce the famous plugs which bear his initials—a works, be it said, which from the small shed of pre-war days have now grown into a large wellequipped factory employing some 600 hands.
PETTER’S, LTD., TO BUILD A CAR.
The Petter Car Co., Ltd., controlled by the wellknown gas and oil engine manufacturers, has commenced work at Yeovil on a car of their own design. The firm besides manufacturing Petter engines is responsible for the production of the Westland aircraft.
“IT’S AN ILL WIND—”
It is calculated that over 1,000 frost-fractured cylinders have been sent to Barimar, Ltd., during the recent severe weather, and in this connection we learn that cracked water-jackets and burst radiators can be treated at the Barimar Repair Stations in Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham equally as well as in London, so that delays on the railways and traffic hold-ups need not interfere with the instantaneous treatment of these parts.