The Seventeenth Rembrandt

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Cameron Earl gave a really excellent talk at the “Rembrandt” on January 22nd on his report on the German G.P. cars. Bob Gerard took the chair and George Monkhouse supported Earl. Gerard said it was disgraceful that we have lost Donington — Silverstone is certainly not a substitute and we want a road-circuit; Hyde Park would be Ideal. He thought 350 b.h.p. is needed to beat the Alfas and said driving technique would need to be very advanced to handle such cars. Monkhouse felt that 400 b.h.p. from a 1 1/2 litre will be needed, as the later 1948 Alfas gave 340 b.h.p.

Earl said that after the difficult task of getting Government permission to compile his report, he completed it after one week’s visit to Germany’ 650 copies were run off, and sold out in ten days! It was difficult to assess the cost in £ sterling of each German team, but £156,000 a year was about right, of which one-fifth was met by subsidy. He touched on the opposite approach to given problems, such as weight distribution, bearings, blower pressures, lubrication, braking, etc., which characterised the efforts of Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union. He felt that Auto-Union made the better engines, Mercedes the better running gear. The 3-litre A-U gave 500 b.h.p. at 7,000 r.p.m. and good torque at lower r.p.m.; Mercedes got only 485 b.h.p. at 8,000 r.p.m. and needed 47 different gearbox combinations, where A-U used one box combination and four different final-drive sets. Mercedes attacked brake fade by reducing temperature, A-U by using flexible shoes able to accommodate drum expansion. Both teams found De Dion rear-axles what they wanted.

A-U took up racing voluntarily, but later the N.S.K.K. insisted on the appearance of both teams In the Vanderbilt Cup and Donington races. Answering Robin Jackson Earl said both teams sought understeer, which is why swing-axles at the rear were abandoned. Monkhouse said starting money was £500-£1,000 a car, averaging three cars in twelve events a year. The drivers made £1,000-£2 000 a year, took all prize money and part of the starting money. It was great to be a team mechanic, but if you made one mistake you were disgraced for life. At present Mercedes is making 600 1.7 litre cars a month and hopes to resume racing, probably using fuel injection. After all, they have raced on and off since 1894! Monkhouse was certainly pro-anything British and should go on being so until there is no need to be!

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