THE OUTER CIRCUIT “200s”
TIIE Junior Car C I ei h ec rtainly intrigued the motorina world alien it announced, for 1921, a 200-mile contest at Brooklands for cars not exceeding 1,500 c.c. We who have seen 500-mile races won at the Weybridge eourse, at over 120 m.p.h. in one instance, may assume a blasé attitude, but we hardly need to be reminded of the state of light-car developxnent in 1921, and of what a scratch race over 74 laps of Brooklands’ none to smooth concrete implied. This wasnot the first, British long-distance race, for the I.O.M. T.’r.s had preceded it, but it was the first long-distance race held in this country, for Brooklands, in spite of its fourteen summers, had seen nothing like it hero re. Sl+oeulation on divers scores was rife, but, largely thanks to the late thigh McConnell, details were gradually settled and the rules puhlished. The actual distance was to be 901 miles 189 yards, and there were to be two classes, up to 1,100 e.c. and 1,101-1,500 c.c., with cups for the winners and a great gold cup presented by T. B. Andre; for the entrant of the car making fastest time of all. The starters wore to be drawn up at the Fork in four lines, the first rOW leaving at mid-day, the remaining rows being Ilagaed off at so-see. intervals. Cars allocated ‘-to the first row were to sport. at least two feet of yellow paint on their bonnets, those in the second row red, those in the third green, and those unfortunates in the last row white. Mechanics had to be carried and they, alone, could assist the driver at the pits.
It only awaited a good entry list, and the first 200-Mile Race ef the J.C.C., scheduled for October 2211d, seemed an assured success. That list wasn’t long in forming. It closed with TalbotDarracq, A.C., Aston-Martin, Bugatti, G.N., Deemster, A. V.. Marlborough, Eric Campbell, -B.A.(., Hillman, A.B.C., Enfield -Ailday, I )ouglas, C ha rron-Layeock, Lagonda, Bleriot-Whippet, Alvis, SorianoPedroso, Silent Snow, Gregoire, Singer, ( ‘nventry-Premier. Crouch, .11orstman, Tcmperino, Baby Peugeot. and Morgan— positive proof that this contest was to have the support of both the leading makes of light car and those dark horses ,striving to establish themselves in a new industry. Speculation as to the results continued unabated. The Talbot-Darracqs were known to be very fast and had beautiful little bodies built at the last minute by the ltawker Aeroplane works at Kingston, while Segrave, Guinness and Campbell were the drivers. They had proved invincible at Le Mans and vould exceed 90 m.p.h. if pressed. But Aston-Martins had taken tlw hour record in the 14-litre class at over 86 m.p.h. in spite of a s.v. engine, and the A.C. team had latiped at over 90. The Bugatt is ha I WW1 at Brescia. These speeds may seem pathetic to-day to some people, mindful of Major Gardner’s 200-m.p.h. M.G.. hut to the writ yr they appear quit e staggering, retnembering the state of small car development in the early nineteen-twenties. Admittedly, in a race of this length and without corners, very high gear-ratios could be used, coupled with narrow, well
streamlined bodies, to enable high speeds to be achieved without tuning engines to an unreliable pitch. There were no acceleration aril roadholding problems to face, it is true, which doubtless caused several little-known makers to mildly tune and extensively cowl quite normal light cars and try their luck. Against this, 200 miles round Brooklands was, in 1921, a very long way indeed for small engines, and the surface imposed severe strains on light chassis running on tiny section tyres. Gradually information trickled through concerning technicalities and form. The Talbots had 16-valve engines with the timing gear for the twin 0.11.c. at the front, twin Solex carburettors, Delco coil ignition and pump cooling. Since the war commenced a contemporary has devoted considerable space to Outer-Circuit racing at Brooklands Track, a subject taboo with many people, but deservedly having a fascination all its own. However, these articles have, in the main, concerned the larger cars which raced at Brooklands in the early days, and less emphasis has been placed on the rather remarkable achievements of the small cars of the early nineteen-twenties. They were doing outstanding things in B.A.R.C. short handicaps and in the field of record-breaking, but perhaps they achieved their greatest allure in the J.C.C. 200-Mile Races, run over the Outer Circuit in 1921-4; the original race of this famous series being the first long-distance race held in England. In view of the foregoing I have a clear conscience in inflicting this detailed account on even my anti-vintage readers, for there is some history which should
never grow stale.—Ed. The dynamos were used to charge the batteries on which they relied for ignition, and these 65 x 112 tam. engines gave Si b.h.p. at. 4,000 r.p.m. The bodies had seat backs of unpadded aluminium moulded to the occupants’ backs, and the mechanics had hand grips behind the driver’s seat, beloved of writers of schoolboy racing yarns. There were neat half foot-ramps, also of aluminium, with recesses for the driver’s heels. Everyone wanted to know what axle ratio these cars used and no one ever discovered, a popular guess being 3.25 to 1. Many of the cars were hastily stripped and rebuilt following the G.P. des Voiturettes, and Bedford’s Hillman was found in good fettle after finishing 4th, behind the Talbots, averaging 62i, m.p.h. for the 279 gruelling miles of that race. Five
A.C.s were entered, two being virtually standard 3-speed sporting cars, specially streamlined and faired, and three genuine racing cars, designed by the ingenious J. Yeller. Originally 8-valve engines with single chain-driven o.h.c., 10-Valve heads were tried later, and ignition was by coil, pump cooling being used. The 4speed gearboxes were in unit with a remarkable solid rear axle, which had exposed driving shafts, the 1-elliptic springs being linked to the central casings, close against which the brake drums ran. Front suspension was located by a balljointed radius arm, consisting of 1-elliptic. springs to a tubular axle, while the newshape radiators had ‘stone guards, the bodies were well streamlined, and the cars were geared to do 25 m.p.h. per 1,000 ratan. The drivers were Alunday, Davis and Davy, the last-named having a beautiful streamlined head-rest, while the s.v. cars were handled by Brownsort and Stead. Lionel Martin put in three Aston-Martins, Kensington-Moir’s, with streamline body, winning at Si m.p.h. at the preceding B.A.R.C. meeting, while Zborowski had the 16-valve, Ballot-head engine, completed about three weeks beforehand, Victor Bruce and B. S. Marshall handling side-valve ears. An ingenious lap-scorer was used (the A.C.s had r.1).111./111.1).11. tables adjacent to the tachometers) and big wire-gauze screens for driver and mechanic were fitted. As time went on the later cars gained speed, but A.C. had various pothers, and on the eve of the race the sixth car was withdrawn and Steal took over Noble’s entry.
France sent. over two bolster-tanked Bugattis, but they did not appear until nearly race day, so that there was no time to fit streamline bodies, and Monez-Maury and Pierre de Viscaya came over later still, with no opportunity of learning Brooklands. Ignition was by two magnetos and the contact-breakers were coupled by a link in the cockpit, held by a wing nut to obtain advance and retard. Of the Itorstmans, three had CoventrySimplex 62 x 100 num engines, altered to take an external inlet manifold fed by a *flex carburetter and outside exhaust pipes, and long streamline bodies with conventional radiator cowls and outside gear and brake levers, the dashboards carrying a radiator thermometer. They were not fast, but seemed likely to be reliable, so Temple and Edwards, backed by Douglas llawkes’s Anzani-engined car, were considered to have a good chance. The two Lagondas were based on the standard 11.9-11.p. model, being driven by Major Oates and Hammond, the former’s a sister car to that which had recently broken the 1,500 c.c. hour record. The engine had rockers in line with the crankshaft, operating the o.h. inlet valves, and the bodies, while quite well-faired, were noticeably cornfortallle and roomy, with well-upholstered seats. Gear and brake levers were central, a spare wheel was accommodated in the tail, and with a very large fuel tank behind it, the radiator was eowled. Alvis put in two cars, presumably s.v. “12/40 ” models. although there was at
one time some worry as to whether the second car would be ready, as the G.P. car suffered a smashed sump in that race and had to be repaired. Harvey’s car had a cowled radiator, and extensively drilled frame and full undershield, and was fast. Joeeland drove the other. Milward and Pradier teamed up for Charron-Laycoek, which had 65 x 110 mm. engines, Pradier’s having a 3.5 to 1 top gear, I-elliptic rear springs in place of Fellipties being hastily substituted on both cars. The A.B.C. entered by Gordon England only just came within the 1,500 c.c. class, with its o.h.v. “square,” air-cooled flat-twin engine of 1,198 c.c. It had been fitted with a much lighter, square-aspect body for the “200,” the whole chassis being visible from the skeleton seats. The fan was removed, the foot-brake and its connections taken off, the cast-iron pistons replaced by aluminium ones giving a compression-ratio of 5i to 1, two huge Solex carburetters fitted, and the breather led to the exhaust valves, while return springs were fitted to the valve rockers. During the first week in October the rear axle ratio was changed for one of 3.25 to 1 and the speed went up to nearly 80 m.p.h. ; unfortunately a gudgeon-pin then broke near the eve of the race. The fast scarlet Enfield-Allday, a newcomer to Brooklands, went out, experienced steering trouble, and was rushed back to the works, to Bertelli’s concern ; but the Marlboroughs, one of which had a rotary valve engine, were ready in good time, although in the end only two started. They, like so many of the other ears, had the later well-known coiled piece of tubing from the radiator cap to act as a steam vent should boiling occur. These cars had spare wheels carried in a locker beneath the fuel tank in the circular tail, while the rear springs ran directly beneath the side members of the frame, passing through slots in the upper flanges at the rear, to meet the shackles. One had a screen of ordinary fine wire mesh. As practice progressed it was seen that many cars would go through without refuelling, consumption appearing to vary from 18 to about 25 m.p.g., but the need for fresh oil presented a grave problem ; plug troubles were infrequent. The Bugattis used a huge funnel with lid, set before the mechanic, into which could be fed the contents of a quart tin of oil to humour the roller-bearing engine, while the A.C.s had two hand-pumps, one to feed in fresh oil and the other to scavenge. The Enfield-Allday and some other cars had a small oil radiator. Good shock-absorp
tion proved very essential, and one AstonMartin had both Houdaille hydraulic and Hartford friction shock-absorbers, the latter left loose, to be tightened up if needed. Before dealing with the actual race, let us consider the 1,100 c.c. class competitors. Archie Nash relied on a standard G.N. with special engine and ratios. The engine was the one used at Boulogne a few weeks before the “200,” with 84 x 98 mm. air-cooled cylinders at 90°. Each cylinder had four o.h.v. operated by an o.h.c. Finding chain drive for the camshafts unsatisfactory in several respects, Nash hastily designed a new system, in which a vertical *haft from tlw
centre of the crankcase drove, by bevel, a cross-shaft connecting both camshafts— in later days, of course, o.h.c. G.N. engines had either a shaft running up the barrel to each camshaft or a single chain drive. Aluminium pistons were used, the internals were undrilled, and there was a dummy radiator frame before the engine. Four-speed chain transmission gave two high top speeds, top being 3.03 to 1, but a 3.3 to 1 ratio being provided in case a head wind blew up the Fork on the dal/ of the race. The tyres were 700 x75 Palmers, and the instruments included Smith speedometer and tachometer. The engine asked for a pumpful of Castrol “H” three times per lap, to keep the passenger busy.
Salmson, who had won the Cycleear Grand Prix that year, sent over Lombard, regarded as Nash’s only rival. His car had a 4-cylinder engine and G.N.-type I-elliptic front springs. The Demister, new to Weybridge, was developed from a standard chassis, but had steel pistons, lightened con.-rods, single, stronger valve springs, a special camshaft, and a racing Claudel Hobson carburetter for its bench tests. To improve stability the wheelbase was increased to 8′ 4″, and Hartfords were used all round ; the top gear was 3.5 to 1. The transmission bearings ran dry, being specially fitted, and a continual drip feed to engine and front universal joint was used, with a spare oil supply in a tank, fed by hand pump, in addition. The normal Deemster radiator sat on rubber buffers, and had a pigtail vent pipe and mesh shield, the 10-gallon fuel tank was well protected, both occupants had screens, and the body was well faired, with the brake-lever outside and the gearlever inside, just below the driver’s knees. Before the race the artillery wheels were replaced by Budge wire wheels, and the number disc on the tail was braced by wire stays. The engine had additional water connections from around the valve pockets to the radiator. The A.V. had a V-fronted dummy bonnet, and Ackermann steering replaced the centre-pivot front axle of the production cars. The big V-twin air-cooled engine sat in the tail behind the rear axle, notwithstanding which the wire wheels carried tyres of a size that would seriously upset present-day scrutineers, even of Class I cars. The Eric-Campbell, quite an unknown quantity, was one of the few unstreamlined ears running, although it made up for this to some extent by having a very slim radiator ; it had a speciallytuned Coventry-Simplex engine with outside exhaust system and raised axle ratio, but was otherwise practically standard. The B.A.C. had a rather similar radiator, set well back over its felliptic front springs, and much pother arose when the engines for these cars were lost in transit to the maker’s works ! The Soriano-Pedroso carried a great continental speed reputation, but was totally unknown over here ; the 2-stroke Silent Snow was equally unknown and never appeared to fulfil the kind comment of a current contemporary to the effect that “the 2-stroke cycle should give a theoretical advantage as regards power,” while yet another dark horse was the Gregoire entry. The Coventry-Premier was another newcomer, rather standard
looking, even to disc wheels, but it, and Bicknell’s artillery-wheeled Singer Ten, were consistent lappers in practice, and Lionel Martin was said to have got 80 m.p.h. from such a Singer in pre-1914 times. The Coventry-Premier was eventually given a bigger Claudel-Hobson carburetter to help it along, while Ware’s Morgan 3-wheeler was really quick, lapping at 80 m.p.h. The Crouch had many Brooklands’ successes to its credit, but Topping’s tiny yellow Baby Peugeot was virtually standard and naturally not very brisk.
The practice period was hectic in the extreme. The Horstmans and one Marlborough were ready in good time, the Deemster lapped at 82 m.p.h., the CharronLaycock had run quite a distance at 82, and the Alvis was very fast, reaching 87 m.p.h., but, not unexpectedly, trouble was rife. Two days before the race Davis’s A.C. was rushed back to the works with the water-pump leaking into the base chamber, a suspicion that the contact breaker cam was slipping, and clutch slip, worries that persisted even as the cars lined up for the start. Indeed, the night before the race saw lights burning in most of the sheds at the Track, as frantic lastminute work proceeded—but over at the Byfleet side peace and contentment reigned where the Talbot-Darracqs were stationed. It is interesting to observe how estimates of the winner’s probable speed changed as practice times came in. The original estimate of 75 m.p.h. was up to 80 m.p.h. by the end of September, and on the eve of the race the victor was expected by the knowledgeable to average 86 m.p.h. In actual fact, the winning car averaged nearly 89 m.p.h., seven finishers averaged over 80 m.p.h., and the fastest lap was at nearly 98 m.p.h. Thus this first long-distance race to be run in England appealed not only on account of its originality and the importance which a varied field of manufacturers attributed to success (competition was keen in the new motoring sphere), but also because ordinary motorists were going to be given the opportunity of seeing racing light cars lapping 13rooklands at nearly twice the speed that their own small cars attained flat-out—and attempting to do so for a distance greater than most people covered in a full day’s drive. Little wonder that, in spite of clouds which gathered about 10 o’clock, 6,630 spectators, in 1,462 cars (many of them small cars of makes soon to be contesting the first English longdistance classic) and 198 motorcycles, made their way to Weybridge on Saturday morning, October 22nd, 1921. When the four rows of ears lined up before the Vickers’ Sheds and people ticked them off in their programmes (which contained a lap-scoring chart of over 4,000 minute squares !), it was seen that the EricCampbell, B.A.C., Douglas, SorianoPedroso, Silent Snow, Gregoire, and Crouch had failed to materialise. That did not materially distract the interest and anticipation. All was set for an epic race to commence at noon, and the Autocar had arranged for telegrams of the competitors’ progress to be posted at 36 diffeiTnt towns throughout the British Ne5, (To be continued.)
capabilities are excellent, and the steering is light and responds at the slightest turn of the wheel at all speeds, and has an excellent lock. Springing over all types of surfaces is good, and starting, even in cold weather, likewise. Performance, considering the weight of the car and the engine capacity, is very creditable. I have not taken any times for acceleration, but the car is soon up to 50 m.p.h. from a standing start. At 2,000 r.p.m., which equals 45 m.p.h. with a 4.1 to 1 axle-ratio and 5.25″ by 214 tyres, the motor is just beginning to get wound up, and it will clock 78 m.p.h. at 3,500 r.p.m.—I had my instruments checked ! Oil constunption is very low, and petrol consumption is from 24-27 m.p.g. Acceleration is quite good ; with the clutch stop in use, that 1st to 2nd determined pull back of the gear-lever will leave moderns quite a small picture in the mirror. Another good point is that the 2-litre will motor along in traffic from 8 m.p.h. in top quite happily and, with ignition slightly retarded, will pick up without need to change down. On long journeys it is an untiring motor to drive ; from the driving seat everything is easily to hand. The steering wheel is in one’s lap, a slight drop of the right hand finds the gear-lever, the rev.-counter, speedometer, oil pressure and radiator thermometer gauges are in front of one on the facia, and magneto and dynamo• switches and mixture control are at an arm’s length to the left. Five similar push-pull lighting switches adorn the
instrument panel, again in front of the driver.
The 2-litre is a very accessible motor to work on. I have recently finished completely rebuilding mine from a bare frame upwards ; with the aid of a pit and the ordinary maintenance tool kit, everything went together very kindly. I would like to thank Lagonda, Ltd., for their kind . assistance in supplying me with spares and information concerning technical details. A C.A.V. dynamo and starter, and Bosch horns are .fitted, and a solenoid switch is incorporated in the starter circuit. The dynamo is mounted on the front of the engine and has the starting handle dog on the end of the armature shaft.