A CASE OF OVER ENTHUSIASM
MICHAEL McEVOY and G. Mackenzie Junner, F.R.S.A., M.I.A.E., M.Inst.Met., have both been pleading for races for oil-engined cars, because they believe that racing would improve the breed and hasten the general utilisation of the oil engine in the private car field. McEvoy would like the International Formula to stipulate Oil-Engine Grands Prix, but Mackenzie Jimuer is more guarded and writes of a class or classes for oil-engined cars in the racing calendar. We believe that if McEvoy’s wish were granted Grand Prix racing would come to a sudden stop, on account of lack of entries. And we feel sure that any organiser bold enough to promote any sort of race confined entirely to oil-engined cars would have to contend with a very thin entry indeed. Mackenzie Junner himself admits that the number of really successful oil engines of types suitable for road vehicles can practically be counted on the fingers of one band. Presumably that includes ‘all sizes of commercial chassis adaptable oil engines, of which some would be of lorry or omnibus sizes, very difficult to adapt to a chassis for racing purposes, especially
for racing over a road circuit. There does not seem to be any indication that this Small band has any interest in racing. If this interest were latent, isolated instances of oil-en.gined cars entering general category contests would arise, which has not been the case since Lord de Clifford, Scott and Grant finished fifth in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1933 with the Gardner-Diesel Bentley, or the long ago Yacco records. Mackenzie Junner thinks that racing would develop the components of the oil-engine—fuel pumps, fuel injectors, superchargers, etc.—rather than the engine itself. Yet, later on in his argument, he emphasises that a racing oilengine would need to be meticulously designed and balanced, and free from vibration, which should assist in eliminating the roughness which at the present time makes the oil-engine not altogether acceptable for private-car work. He also argues that there is less danger of a racing-car burning up, if it has an oilengine power unit. To the former point the answer seems to be that recordbreaking would do a very great deal towards both improving the oil-engine and in gaining commercial prestige for given makes and types. Much money is likely to be lost in promoting oilengine races, but the record attacker himself bears the cost of establishing, or of attempting to establish, fresh records. Moreover, the cost is likely to be far less to the participant, because for outer-circuit record work any good chassis can be used as the mobile research laboratory and brakes, gearbox, steering, etc., play no part in the success or otherwise of the venture. It is the engine we are seeking to perfect, so outer-circuit lappery will do everything required. And as oilengines of up to about 5-litres capacity, the type suitable for private-car adaptation, will produce speeds not outside the scope of Brooklands, record-attacking as a means of oil-engine development and advertisement seems to have so much more to recommend it than attempting to get entries for oil-engine-car races. A further point is that you can attack a record when you are ready to do so, and until the oil-engine more nearly app r °aches the racing petrol-engine in performance, careful research will be more beneficial than hurried development, and the results of such research will bear closer comparison with petrol engine achievement than would be the case if oil-engined cars were raced over well
known road circuits. As to the fire danger argument, fire is just one of the many hazards of motor-racing and no race promoter is likely to word his rules to exclude petrol-engined cars and risk having no entries to put in his race programme. And the fact remains that, in spite of several very close calls, drivers have not been burned to death in racing-car cockpits—although fire probably hastened the death of one or more spectators in the terrible, accident in the last International Trophy Race.
So we do not wish to see anyone wasting time and money on a race for oil-engined cars at the present stage of oil-engine development—but we do want to see more record-attacking activity amongst oil-fuel fraternity. The whole trouble about attacking records with oil-engined cars is that the A.I.A.C.R. only recognises an unlimited capacity class for oil-engined cars. And at the present stage of development oil-engined cars are hardly potent enough to compete, even in the record sphere, with petrol-engined cars, yet the diesel records already stand out of reach of the oil-engined car of moderate capacity— which is the sort of job with which private car folk are concerned. For example, Capt. George Eyston’s oil-fuel “Flying Spray” holds the world’s C.I. flying kilo record at 159.1 m.p.h. The same driver has the C.I. ” Hour ” up to 105.6 m.p.h. and the 24 hours up to 07.05 m.p.h. Eyston deserves every credit for showing publicly the rapid advance made in the C.I.-en.gined racingcar since he first saw its possibilities and demonstrated at Brooklands on a teeming wet day in 1 933 with his enclosed A.B.C. diesel, which later did 120 m.p.h. But probably the most useful oil-fuel records so far established were those set up by R. J. Munday, of ” 30/98 ” and. Leyland-Thomas fame, at Brooklands in 1935. Munday installed a 2.7-litre Perkins diesel in one of the ” flat-iron ” Thomas-Specials and covered the flying kilo at 94.7 m.p.h. He also set up 50 kilo, 50 mile, 100 kilo, 1 hour and 100 mile standing start records, at speeds of between 88 and 89 m.p.h. The Perkins engine was “hotted up” in the same way as a petrol unit would be for a job of this kind, as a very informative booklet issued afterwards by F. Perkins Ltd. explained, the output being increased by 33 per cent. from 45 to 65 b.b.p.—which says heaps for Parry Thomas’s streamlining. For the flying kilo attempt the engine was Zoller blown. There is little doubt that the makers learned useful lessons from this attempt, apart from gaining valuable publicity in the commercial vehicle users’ field, and, because the engine was of moderate size and did some 30 m.p.g. on fuel costing 1/1 a gallon, in the private
car world also. Yet another point in favour of record-breaking with oilengined cars, as distinct from racing, is that the commercial vehicle operator is statistically-minded, and more likely to be influenced by figures relating to records than by sensational Press accounts of poorly-contested races. To-day all records up to 24 hours in the C.I. category belong to Capt. George Eyston’s A.E.C.-engined cars, which have engines of over 9-litres, even the long-distance figures are at upwards. of 97 m.p.h. The remainder, up to eight days, are the property of the little 1.7-litre Yacco, which is so much more interesting to private car and light commercial
vehicle folk. But the speeds are only about 70 m.p.h. Clearly, liyston’s busengine() cars can wipe off the Yacco records whenever George has eight spare days, and then the Yacco, and things like the 3-litre Perkins of four years ago, will be right out of the Record List. So, once again, we would ask the R.A.C. to ask the A.I.A.C.R. to introduce capacity divisions into the C.I. record category. Something like up to 4-litres ; 4 to 7-litres ; and over 7-litres. Then. those striving to perfect the light high-speed oil engine will be able to learn valuable lessons and demonstrate their products via the medium of recordattacking, as petrol-engine designers have done in the past. The racing-car of to-day is to-morrow’s touring car. Why should not the record-breaking oil-engine of 1939 be to-morrow’s light lorry engine? Thank you, Col. Lloyd 1 Another shortcoming of the existing C.I. category is that it makes no provision for oil-engines having electric ignition ; a type of interest for car work.