“DAVID AND GOLIATH” Can there be a Race Favouring Neither Large Cars nor Small ?
THE racing community in Great Britain is both fortunate and unfortunate in having a wide range of fast cars to choose from. Fortunate because the driver not well provided with money can buy an M.G. or a Riley, and be sure of having a reliable car which will
put’up a fine show irrespective of its capacity, while Talbots or Invictas are available for those whose means allow them to buy big cars. The unfortunate part is that there can be no true comparison between big cars and small ones, and the fact that M.G.’s won at Ulster in 1931 and Rileys in 1932 was simply because these cars beat the handicapper’s estimate of their speed on these respective years by the greatest amount. Their average speed, amazing though it was in each case, and which is the measure of their merit, is not the deciding factor. Another trouble about handicap racing is that in the following year a successful Class is more or less deprived of the chance of a further win, by having an excessive penalty imposed, while the same applies in the case of a new car rumoured to be very fast ; its class is set back in case it should happen to do some good, which is not much encouragement for new enterprise. On the Continent the popularity of Grand Prix races has tended to produce cars of similar capacity, varying with the rules ix force. At one time 2 litres, then
S. the period of the 2.3’s, while for the coming year 2.8 litres seems to be the magic figure. A win in a race between cars of similar capacity and specification does establish the superiority of the %inner and is much more conclusive than a success achieved in a handicap race, no matter Whether the successful car is large or small. Handicap races are further complicated by having to cater for supercharged and unsupercharged cars. Cars fitted with superchargers are handicapped differ ently under various circumstances, taking into consideration the nature of the course and the degree of blowing imparted to the engine, but at any rate with modern forced induction methods it may be taken that handicap of 30% of the capacity is no longer sufficient to cover the in crease of power
Magnettes. Obviously the which super
chargin g should impart to an engine. The Isle of Man races next July are to be run on a scratch basis, one race being for cars up to 1,500 c.c. unsupercha rg e d and 1,100 c.c. supercharged, and the second day’s event embraces the larger cars. When one considers it, the Junior race seems almost certain to be won by the Magnettes will be faster than the Midgets, and their only possible rivals in their own class would be supercharged Amilcars. Widengren’s car is the only one in England which is likely to offer effective opposition, but a single car has very
little chance against a well-organised team. The Rileys of course did very well at Ulster, but they cannot be expected to put up the same performance as supercharged cars of same capacity.
What of the 1,500 c.c. cars ? With the exception of the 1,500 c.c. Rileys, which have not yet shown a great increase of speed over the four-cylinder jobs, I cannot see serious opposition. 95-100 m.p.h. is the limit of any 1,500 c.c. car in the English racing field, while 110 will probably be the speed of the Magnette, with the additional advantage of a lighter engine and of power low down the speed range, which gives the supercharged car its advantage when getting away from corners.
The Mannin Moar race should be dominated by 2.3 Alfas and Bugattis, though Don’s 4.9, if fitted with a four speed gearbox on which the ratios are capable of being shifted, may give them a good run. Talbots or Invictas, likewise such small fry as supercharged 1,500 c.c. Bugattis, Frazer Nashes or the hoped-for Maseratis will be out of the picture. Raising the class limit to 1,500 c.c. supercharged would not help matters much, as these cars would then take the place of the Magnettes as almost certain winners. The thing to aim for is to run races which will encourage entries from the greatest possible number of manufacturers, and which at the same time will show the relative performances of the various cars undisguised by the confusing effect of handicaps. Nobody expects M.G. Midgets to go as quickly as Monoposto Alfas, but for their size they do put up amazing performances. “Let us start them all together and see how long each car takes to do its 250 miles. Any interested person can then tell the relative performance for capacity and price of the two cars, and form an idea of their absolute
merit.” Such is the idea of Mr. H. J.Aldington, the Managing Director of Frazer Nash Cars. Besides making the cars, he races them, and so is in a good position to speak both for the Trade and for the competitor.
His idea then is to run two races, one for unsupercharged cars of any capacity and the other for supercharged cars. Let us consider what entries one could expect for the first of these.
Amongst large cars one could expect to get Talbot, Invicta, and Alvis. These latter two cars have not entered officially now for a good time, but in a race where they would have a fair chance of showing their form, I think there would be a good chance of getting them in. It is a great pity the M. G. Mark III which made a successful debut in the 1930 Double Twelve is no longer available to make a fourth. The 1,500 c.c. class with entries of Aston Martin, Frazer Nash, Riley, and
possibly Hornet Specials, not to speak of the earlier Alfas, would provide a good scrap, and if the class were extended to 2 litres, G.P. Bugattis would probably join in the fun. In the next category one would find 1,100 c.c. Rileys, unsupercharged Magnettes, Crossleys and Altas, though the latter two makes do not yet seem to have found the stamina which racing demands. Finally in the everpopular 750 c.c. class, Austins and M.G.’s would probably have quite an even tussle. The blown race should command an equally interesting entry. In the large class one might attract a Mere, though the Manx course would require a short wheelbase one, and there are few of these about. Blown Bentleys would take some handling, but the 4.9 Bugatti and the 5 litre Invictas, if they materialise, would be interesting. In the three litre class the most exciting race of all, Bugatti, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and later on the new Mercedes, also the Bentley when it appears. Maserati, Invicta, Bugatti,
Alfa, and Frazer Nash make up a blown 1,500 c.c. class, while the Magnette and the Amilcar and Salmson would be eligible for Class G. M.G. and Austin again in the smallest class—plenty of interest all through.
It may be argued that many of the names in the foregoing lists of names are doubtful as starters, since the firms mentioned do not race. The true facts are, I think, that firms like Alvis, and also private individuals, would be willing to take part in competition if they knew that their achievements would receive a fair amount of publicity and credit, and in scratch races such as have been suggested they would get this. No one would expect a 1,100 Riley to be as fast as a Talbot, for instance, but the Talbot is considerably more expensive, and one expects more for the money.
On a fast course like that of the Irish Grand Prix the larger cars would almost certainly win, but on a twisty course like the Douglas one the result would be more even. Power-weight ratio, brakes, and ease of handling are what count on a racing car, and if these qualities were sacrificed to mere size and speed on the larger cars, their performance would reveal the fact, and in the same way an 1,100 c.c. car which proved its superiority to the ” 4 litres would receive the credit due to it. Besides a general classification one would need awards by category. Probably the best points to fix these would be (a) over 2 litres, (b) 2 litre and 1 litre, (c) 1,100 c.c. and under. The cars over 2 litres all seem to have a very similar performance on a twisty circuit, the only 2 litre likely to disturb the (b) class is
Count Czaikowski’s special double-camshaft one, which one would be glad to welcome in any case. The small classes would probably be cleaned up by Magnettes and Rileys in their respective races, but the development of the 750 c.c. car has reached such an advanced stage that few people would complain.
Like all plans for better and brighter motor-racing, the one proposed seems to have one or two snags. One is that the small cars will be much slower than the large ones and will get in their way. On the fast Promenade stretch, this difficulty need not happen, as there is plenty of room for everyone, while the small cars usually accelerate away from corners quite as smartly as the others.
The other awl more serious objection is caused by the fact that manufacturers race to a large extent with the idea of obtaining advertisement for their products, and that the ignorant non-technical public might not give the same credit to an M.G. finishing 8th in the General Classification as it would to a Talbot which secures the first place. This difficulty would be somewhat eased by the fact that the small car would finish high in its class and would publish the fact, while the large car would have the credit due for a fast run. As was said at the start of the article, there is no way of reconciling the performances of the racing cars of all sizes which take part in British races, but there is a considerable amount to be said for the scheme outlined above. It will be interesting to know what readers think about the scheme, and we are preparing a fireproof letter-box in case of any too
vitriolic replies. T.G.M.