IT is to be sincerely hoped that the enterprise of John Duff, one-time Bentley hero, will meet with success. His plan of running a motor race right across Africa, from Algiers to Johannesburg, is one that cannot fail ‘ to capture the imagination of all who have a spark of adventure in them.
The trouble at the moment lies in making the whole thing sufficiently attractive from the competitors’ point of view. The expense of running a car will obviously be terrific, and prize and starting money will have to be of sufficient magnitude to offer some inducement to prospective competitors.
However, that is the gloomy side of the position. The race will probably be held to coincide with the Johannesburg Empire Exhibition, and I do not doubt that Duff will be able to arrange the financial side of the race satisfactorily. From the spectacular pbint of view the affair has great possibilities, and the winning manufacturers would deservedly gain an immense amount of publicity. The race is bound to attract all the holders of the numerous town-to-town records, both in South Africa and Australia, and the ultimate winner will, no doubt, be found among these experienced drivers. For many reasons the big-engined American car is favoured for these records, and a British victory in the race would therefore be all the more creditable.
The Instone Trophy.
Everyone wilt be glad to hear that the Instone Trophy has been awarded to Lindsay Eccles. This trophy is given to the driver who has the greatest number of Brooklands victories to his credit. Eccles is the most suitable person to receive it, for he has been a regular competitor down at Weybridge for several years now, and it is good that his successes should meet with the special recognition they deserve.
The news that the Empire Trophy handicap system has now been completed by ” Ebby ” reminds one of the urgent need of a long distance scratch race at Brooklands. From a personal point of view, it does strike me that handicap races except when run on the J.C.C.’s inimitable system—are extremely difficult to follow. Add to this such inadequate scoring and loud
speaker arrangements, as those which marred the Empire Trophy last year, and the resulting race strikes one as being nothing more or less than a procession.
Ask any regular Brooklands habitué which, in his opinion, are the races that abide most strongly in his memory a..s exciting and enjoyable entertainments, and he will certainly reply, ” The J.C.C. 200-Miles Races and the R.A.C. British Grand Prix.” Both were easy to follow, and therein lay the secret of their success.
Are There Enough Cars ?
The ideal programme would be a Junior Race in the morning, and the Senior event in the afternoon. The junior race could be divided into two categories, running simultaneously, one for blown 750’s and unblown 1,100’s, and the other for blown 1,100’s and 1,500’s. The senior race would be an unlimited affair, with the prize money portioned out so that even the fifth and sixth finishers would be amply rewarded.
The problem is to gather together enough cars. Let us take a quick look round at those available in the forthcoming season. First of all, there are the four 3.3-litre Bugattis, which will undoubtedly sweep most races before them (including the handicap affairs). Then there are Straight’s two 3-litre Maseratis, which, we hope, will find a home in this country—his 2f-litre job is already the property of Rose. Rose-Richards also has a 2.5-litre Maseratis. Then there are at least two twin-camshaft Bugattis, and three 2.3-litre Alfas.
The E.R.A., with the 2-litre engine, is a match for most cars in acceleration, and there will probably be at least three of these in action this year. Finally, the two 4-litre Sunbeams are ideal for a Brooklands ” road ” race, and several single-camshaft Bugattis would, no doubt be entered as well.
That makes a total of over twenty, apart from any foreign competition. People have got so used to saying that foreigners won’t come to Brooklands that they have quite lost sight of the reason which is, that the handicap-race is quite rightly abhorred by Continental drivers. If they can depend upon their skill and speed they do not mind the journey involved, but if that same skill can easily be set at naught by a small car running on handicap, they naturally keep away. Others say that the reason is the smaller prize money to be gained at Brooklands, but this is hardly true. Our races have been nobly supported in this direction–it is the handicap system that is at fault.
E .R .A . Activity.
Two more E.R.A. recruits are announced in Freddy Clifford and P. G. Fairfield, who have joined forces. Their cars will be the stock chassis, with a choice of 1,100 c.c. and 1,500 c.c. engines. They intend to cruise round the Continent looking for races, and they ought to be very successful. At the moment the 1,100 c.c. class on the Continent is generally occupied by old six-cylinder Amilcars, Salmsons, Rallys and B.N.C.’s. The 1 i-litre events usually attract sundry Bugattis, with Veyron’s 8-cylinder model as the fastest of the bunch.
From the competitive aspect, it is interesting to speculate on the coming 1,100 c.c. battle between the E.R.A. and the M.G. Magnette. In experience, the Magnette has a big advantage, but the E.R.A. is a later production. Then the Italian challenge is likely to be strong, what with the amazing developments in the 4-cylinder Maseratis and the introduction of the new 1,100 c.c. Alfa Romeo.
We all know the annoying business of having to wade through bulky programmes at big races in order to check the number of various drivers. When there are about a dozen identical cars in a race it is often difficult to distinguish drivers whom you may have been talking to just before, the race began.
A way out of this difficulty would be for the A.I.A.C.R. to allot permanent numbers every year to all drivers taking part in events inscribed on the International Calendar. This system is, of course, in use in America, where it has proved immensely popular. For example, Varzi, Chiron, Stuck, etc., would be No. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., in every race in which they take part. The task of identifying them would therefore be much easier. As things are, one is forced to adopt either the programme-searching method or the more subtle way of noting drivers’ characteristics. The more you study this point, the more easily it becomes to recognise Chiron, Nuvolari, Earl Howe, Whitney Straight, Rose
Richards, etc., by the mere set of their heads as they corner.
I was talking to Roy Nockolds the other day about this intriguing subject, and the keener observation of the artist was revealed in several instances he pointed out to me. Earl Howe, for example, always leans well over towards the inside of any corner, and a similar trait is possessed by Marcel Lehoux, but in the latter case the driver seems to gather together his small but wiry frame just before the corner is reached. Nuvolari and Chiron are as different as chalk from cheese ; the former is the essence of dynamic energy, forcing the car to obey his will, while Louis gets there just as quickly by a perfect blending of his movement with the speed and momentum of his mount.
Philippe Etancelin is easily recognisable apart from his reversed cap by the hunched attitude of his shoulders, his frequent glances backwards, as though he is being pursued by all the devils in existence, and lastly the delightful habit he has of constantly sticking his tongue out ! Whitney Straight has, what I consider to be, the most purposeful ” stance.” He seldom leans to one side on a corner, and looks calmly in control of the situation, while obviously using his entire attention and energy.
Observing these characteristics is one thing, but conveying on paper, canvas or copper in a speed impression is quite another. Motor-artists generally fail to pay any attention to this, “a head” being enough to indicate the driver. Nockolds, on the other hand, can capture the exact attitude of a certain man, and to bear out this point you have only to look at his popular print of the late Sir Henry Birkin at Brooklandsprobably the finest speed study ever executed.
This Rally Business.
As I write these lines, the die-hard members of the Rally Brigade are now indulging their love of icy-roads, the Freezing North, and the attendant circumstances of making a motor car one’s home for three days and
nights in mid-winter. Defiantly inviting the contemptuous insults of many, I vote for a nice big saloon, if one embarks upon the venture. I like the look of Cleverley’s Graham which started from Umea.
Frankly, I don’t ‘old with the use of these ‘ere grotesque oversize wheels and tyres. Make a car look like a roller-skate. I cannot understand why the organisers continue to allow them. A rally is essentially an event for stock-cars, and no car can claim to be standard with those amazing wheels and tyres. If sonic people can get through from difficult points, why not make standard wheels and tyres compulsory ?
In the eyes of many discerning motorists, the big wheels merely give, the impression that the car could not get to Monte Carlo without them. As plenty of cars manage it without going to such extremes, it does not do the offenders much good, which serves them right.
I was down at Abingdon the other day, and heard all about the latest models of the K3 Magnette and the Q Midget. Instead of being fitted with two-seater road racing bodies, with the detachable streamlined tail for track events, the 1935 models will all have single-seater bodies, which should result in a noticeable increase in speed. The actual design is not yet available for inspection, but I gather that the new cars will present a really magnificent appearance. Incidentally, provisional orders are now being accepted for delivery in strict rotation commencing April. The approximate price for a Monoposto Magnette will be £950, and for a ditto
Midget E600. Both models have received considerable modification in the light of experience gained last season.
So Reg Tanner of Pratts has got married. Congratulations to you, Reg ! The charming lady is Miss Elsa Ranch, daughter of Mr. W. Ranch, of Ailingen, near Friedrichshafen, and the ceremony took place on January 15th. This accounts for Tanner going to Oberstdorf for his holiday, instead of taking part in the Monte Carlo Rally, as has been his wont for the last few years.
Wanted—a Racing Partner.
Esson-Scott tells me that he is looking for a racing partner. The idea is to share expenses and driving on a level basis, and to carry out a full programme of Brooklands racing and speed trials.
His car, as most of you know, is an extremely fast 2-litre Bugatti. It stood a very good chance of winning the J.C.C. International Trophy Race last year, but unforeseen cluteh trouble reduced the finishing position to twelfth. Later in the season a Mountain Race was won at the creditable speed of 69.05 m.p.h. The car can lap this circuit at over 70 m.p.h. Esson Scott purchased the car direct from the Bugatti factory at Molsheim, and is possibly one of the special supercharged ” Two-litres ” owned by the late Count Czaikowski. Incidentally, Esson Scott does all his own tuning.
Any letters addressed c/o Boanerges will be immediately forwarded to Esson Scott.