Matters of moment, February 1952

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The Monte Carlo Rally

It is a matter for debate which contest, the Monte Carlo Rally, the Alpine Rally, races like Le Mans, the Targa Florio and the TT, or those fantastic events like the Cape Rally and trans-American hustles, constitutes the most searching test of production type cars. But as an index to the touring efficiency of the world’s normal motor cars there is no doubt about it —the Monte Carlo Rally, the 22nd of which has just concluded, is a searching test both of man and machine, and one which grips most the imagination of the public.

Of recent years this great winter Rally, which involves averaging over 31 mph for more than 2,000 miles through—if the weather gods cooperate with the organisers—snow, ice, fog and flood, has received enormous publicity and the BBC has seen to it that millions of listeners know what the rally is about and which cars win through. Extremely valuable publicity results from winning the Monte Carlo Rally, both to the manufacturer concerned and to the country in which the successful car is made. Only slightly less important from this prestige aspect are outright wins in the various capacity classes. Naturally, writing before the competitors have left the numerous starting places, Motor Sport’s fingers are crossed for the British cars, which comprised 18 Jaguars, 16 Fords, 15 Sunbeam-Talbots, 13 Jowetts, 11 Austins, 9 Rileys, 7 Hillmans, 6 Vauxhalls, 6 Allards, 5 Humbers, 4 Morris, 3 Bentleys, 2 Bristols, 2 Alvis, 2 Singers and lone examples of MG, Wolseley, Lanchester, Lagonda, AC and Daimler.

These British cars, some with foreign drivers, were opposed by the pick of the Continental marques, driven in many instances by racing and competition drivers of international repute, and to the winning drivers and makes we tender hearty congratulations.

The Rally will be warming up to its climax as this issue of Motor Sport goes to Press but we hope on another page to publish an account of how the Glasgow starters fared on the roads of Scotland, Wales and England on their 564-mile “first hop” to board the cross-Channel steamer. Next month, with the results, will be included a detailed account of the Rally.

The future of Formula Racing

The introduction of a new Formula for 1954 gives rise to speculation. The existing Formula 1 seems to be dying before its time, for not only has France already turned her back on it, but the San Remo and Zandvoort Grands Prix are to be Formula II and the German, Belgian, Swiss, Italian and possibly British Grands Prix may follow suit.

If this is so, existing Formula 1 cars will be eligible for very few races. A statement issued on January 18th by Raymond Mays states : “BRM, Ltd, announce that it is their intention to compete with a team of cars in all Grand Prix races, including the British, and in any International Formula 1 events that can be fitted in. With reference to recent conjectures and proposals about adopting Formula II, we have had no official intimation of any such negotiations.” In spite of “official proposals” having by-passed Bourne, it seems that BRM may not have much “fitting-in” to do !  Alfa Romeo is expected to enter only for short-distance races and Ferrari may not bother to enter for our “local” Formula 1 events, so it is now too late for the BRM to prove itself a worldbeater. Their only hope of retrieving some of their lost prestige is to win every one of the few races still open to them. If Mr AGB Owen can flog this unwilling horse sufficiently for it to do this—and we sincerely hope that he can—then BRM may prepare with confidence for 1954. If not, they might as well give up trying to make racing cars.

Formula II racing holds great promise and points the way to what the Grandes Epreuves of 1954 will be like. For some unaccountable reason not many important purely Formula II races are due to be run in Britain and the eighteen French races in this category look like being over-subscribed. We can only hope that drivers of HWM, Cooper-Bristol, Alta, Connaught and Cooper 1,100 cars will be able to enter for full-scale Formula Il Grands Prix. Certainly, with so many promising British Formula II cars ready, it is a pity our bigger race organisers still want to feature Fonnola III events as programme “curtainraisers.” Races for 500-cc cars are legion and they even have their own venues, so that it would seem logical to “raise-the-curtain” with Formula II cars—or better still, build the main programme around Formula II.

The coming change in Formula 1 makes it interesting to speculate on the possibility of blown 750-cc cars. Alfa-Romeo might be reluctant to discard their specialised knowledge of super-charged engines and an eight-cylinder version of the present BRM V16 engine has been mentioned. Undoubtedly, however, unblown 21/2-litre cars will predominate in 1954. Consequently, the performance of this season’s British 2-litre cars is of immense interest, for the majority if them, joined perhaps by Jaguar, are likely to have been “inflated” two years from now into Formula 1 cars. Those that fail this year to be accepted for classic races will presumably appear in handicap and Formule Libre events, along with the usual intriguing “one-off” entries, such as Oscar Moore’s HWM with enlarged Jaguar XK 120 engine and pre-selector gearbox. And Formula III will continue to thrive on intense rivalry between Cooper, Kieft, JBS, Parker and the rest.

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