Matters of moment


The accident at Lake Coniston in which Donald Campbell lost his life in " Bluebird " when within an ace of raising the Water Speed Record to over 300 m.p.h. shocked the entire sporting world. In the past we have joined in the criticism of Campbell's handling of his attempts on the Land Speed Record and the delays at Coniston seemed to be following a similar pattern. Such criticism arose from those impatient of postponements and ballyhoo. But it has to be accepted that Campbell, more than anyone, had made record-breaking at the ultimate level of speed in conventional cars, and boats, not only a way-of-life but a living and in consequence had to stay continually in the limelight, playing up to the public image of a " speed-king " so as to please sponsors who had staked great sums of money on his publicity-value and ultimate success. The fact remains that, no matter how frustrating the delays, how childish some aspects of the " image" may have seemed, in the end it wasn't the technicians, Leo Villa, the reporters, the camera-men or the hangers-on who had to get into the car or boat and go—that task was Campbell's alone. After the alarming accident to " Bluebird "-- the-car -- at Utah in which he was badly injured and his knowledge of what might well happen to the boat if it lifted a mere 3 deg., Campbell's extreme bravery in going for the Water Speed Record on the opening day of the Earls Court Boat Show cannot be questioned.

There may be those who will translate bravery as foolhardiness but anyone, whether recordbreaker, racing driver, test pilot, anarchist, pot-holer, mountaineer, rower of boats across the Atlantic, or sailor-supreme like Francis Chichester, who chooses to lead a colourful adventurous life and accept the consequences has, in our opinion, something valuable to offer the World. Such people are in a different category to, for instance, tycoons, politicians, civil-servants and shopkeepers. They must be the envy of many who are forced to lead hum-drum cabbage existences. Donald Campbell lived and died as he wished, an individualist and a very brave man. The value of record-breaking on land and water has been queried in certain quarters but this is like saying that circuit racing is merely a lot of costly unconventional cars chasing round in circles making a filthy noise or that " Gipsy Moth IV " should have been piloted by remote-control while Chichester stayed at home. Those who are prepared to accept a challenge and face danger elevate human endeavour to a worthwhile level and, anyway, without their exploits the demi-god television would lose some of its more lurid opportunities !

In saluting with the greatest respect the memory of Donald Campbell who lies at rest beneath Coniston Water we find it hard to understand the mentality of Producer Barry Westwood, who included pictures in his Coniston film of friends informing Tonia Campbell of " Bluebird's " horrid crash; presumably he would see nothing objectionable in anyone filming friends telephoning tragedy to his wife if such an occasion ever arises ?


That letter to Barbara Castle

No reply has been received from Mrs. Castle, the M.o.T., or any Labour M.P. to the letter that formed last month's Editorial. But a deluge of letters of congratulation on its contents has come in from readers. We do not wish to labour the issue for the moment but will instead content ourselves by printing the following poem, written two years ago by a reader who thought Mr. Fraser might like to sing it in his bath. Things have scarcely improved since then, so this verse, based on the original by A. D. Goodie, who was protesting against motor-buses in general, and presumably those just introduced in Oxford by William Morris in particular, is equally applicable to Mrs. Castle :

What is this that reareth, ma ?

Can it be a motor car ?

Yes the smell and hideous hum

lndicat Motorem Bum.

All the time in Transport House,

Terret me ome high speed mouse.

Maserati nunc clamitabo

Ne Motore caedar in a mo.

Jaguar or Aston Martin

So thou pardon now my sin.

Whither, Whither can I flee ?

Spare me, spare me, M.G.-B !

Thus I sing; and still Jensens

Come like Ferraris in their tens.

Et complebat totum animum

Sententiae Cooperorum.

How shall wretches live like me

Overtaken by a TR3

Barbara, Barbara tell you me

What was wrong with the Model-T ?

What was wrong with the Model-T ?



Eight Clubs Again

The Eight Clubs has been brought back to its former strength with the addition of the Combined One-Make Car Club, which in itself contains 55 clubs and 5,000 members. The original number was reduced when the Lagonda Club withdrew a few years ago, and the roll now includes the Hants & Berks, Harrow, Cemian, Chiltern, Seven-Fifty, Lancia and A.C. Owners' clubs. Most important event in their calendar is the Silverstone race meeting to be held this year on June 3rd.


G.M. cases dropped

General Motors have announced that they have disposed of all the outstanding lawsuits alleging defective design in the swing-axle Chevrolet Corvairs made between 1960 and 1963. Of the four cases tried by jury none has been successful, despite lurid descriptions of injuries, and Stirling Moss' expert evidence in one hearing helped to clear the World's biggest motor company. Other manufacturers of rear-engined, swing-axle cars have been watching the situation carefully since it became known that a company of lawyers were advertising for plaintiffs.


Turner leaving B.M.C.

Stuart Turner, whose fame in rallying as a competitions manager must equal that of Neubauer in racing, is leaving B.M.C. in March to join Castrol as assistant head of publicity. Formerly on the staff our associated publication, Motoring News, Turner joined B.M.C. in 1961 and was quickly forming a versatile team bringing both the big Healeys and the little Minis up to the point of perfection. Quick to recognise talent, he signed Aaltonen, then rejected by Mercedes, and Makinen who with Hopkirk formed the most formidable team that has ever taken part in International rallying. Turner's successor is Peter Browning, a member of the competition Press staff and secretary of the Austin-Healey Club.


Le Mans recording

There is nothing new in re-creating the more exciting sounds of motor racing —Stanley Schofield has been doing it for years--but Decca's " pop-L.P." department have been more ambitious in collecting the sounds of the Le Mans 24-hour event held last year. Producer Hugh Mendl took his microphone into the pits, the bars, the funfair, even to the Sunday morning Mass, and recorded the atmosphere quite faithfully, although the net result is a record mainly for the uninitiated with many amusing comments overheard. In places we recalled Peter Ustinov's brilliant " Grand Prix du Roc," especially in the preparation and practice scene and when Mendl Visited the Ford pit, when the effect reaches comedy, perhaps unintentionally. For the real enthusiast, the 4 p.m. start does not capture the atmosphere of a "corrida" and the highlight is the night-time pit recording, when the real power of the fastest machines comes through. Comments by Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon are enlightening and we felt that the recording could have been given more life and excitement if the pure sound effect could have been played up, perhaps by taking recording equipment nearer the track. But Mendl says in the handout : " I'd always wanted to make a motor racing album that wasn't just a collection of car noises."


The cars nobody wants -- sequel

The comment under this heading in the December issue has brought in a few letters from readers accusing us of being unfair to the memory of the Armstrong Siddeley, as they say, with various reservations, that they would like to restore the derelict cars mentioned. They have, in fact, missed the point, which is that the need for these cars to be saved was publicised in Motor Sport a considerable time ago and to the best of our knowledge all have long since been scrapped, with one possible exception.

The Armstrong Siddeley O.C. wrote us a rather facetious letter thanking us for the publicity accorded to them and, as we stated last month, David Goode, their Secretary-General, came three days after the aforesaid announcement had appeared and took away the pre-war 17-h.p. car we had offered to this Club and which he had accepted on its behalf over a year earlier. What we did not know at the time was that he moved this luckless Armstrong Siddeley less than one-tenth of a mile and then abandoned it, so that it is still in the open and not under cover and being restored, as we had thought. At the time of writing, more than six weeks later, the car is still there, exposed to the elements and we have had no communication from Mr. Goode, so when we called these "the cars nobody wants" we were pretty well on the mark! This notwithstanding an advertisement in which someone asking £150 for a partly-restored vintage Armstrong Siddeley states categorically that when rebuilt it will be worth £1,500. Incidentally, we note that the Siddeley Special no longer figures in the V.S.C.C.'s list of cars they recognise as post-vintage thoroughbreds --.W. B.


Standing Start records

The standing-start quarter-mile and 500-metre records still see keen rivalry between Abarth, Porsche and B.M.W. The Munich firm recently set new figures for these distances in Class D, with their advanced 4-cylinder, 16-valve, 2-litre engine in a Brabham chassis, driving through a Hewland gearbox. This 4-cylinder engine, with its eight downdraught inlet ports and eight Solex carburetters, is claimed to give 290 b.h.p. at 8,600 r.p.m. running on a nitro-methane/ methanol fuel and in this form Hubert Hahne clocked 19.67 sec. for the quarter-mile and 12.655 sec. for the 500 metres, these being two-way averages.

This B.M.W. cylinder head with its four valves radially disposed in the hemispherical combustion chamber, the valves operated by two overhead camshafts and a system of rockers and push-rods, will form the basis of their Formula 2 engine for 1967, mounted on a 1,600- c.c. cylinder block. It is this engine which will appear in the new Formula Two Lola chassis, the works Lola being driven by Surtees and the works B.M.W. being driven by Hahne. B.M.W. are already talking about 225 b.h.p. from this 1,600-c.c. engine running on straight petrol.


The racing fuel Elcosine

A very well-written and amusing article by T. A. Atkinson of BP's Technical Publications Branch appeared in the December 1966 issue of BP Shield about the attempts made to discover for Hugh Conway of the Bugatti O.C. exactly what was Elcosine, the fuel used by the Bugatti racing team in the mid-twenties. Inquiries were made of Sammy Davis, Bill Boddy, Cyril Posthumus who said it was called Elkosine, Rob Walker, George Collins, Lemon-Burton, Wally Hassan, Harry Weslake, Bill Lacey, Vic Willoughby, Giulio Ramponi, Leslie Wright, Col. Rowntree, Hartley & Carter, Comdr. Evans of Cleveland, The Distillers Company, the Patents Office, the R.A.C., BP France. and finally BP's own Refineries Records Department, which said it was called Elcosina, came from BP France via San Marco, Milan, was tested by the Sunbury Research Station in 1926; and was composed of 42% alcohol, 58% benzole.

Back to Ramponi who said, no, the Elcosine used in racing Alfa Romeos didn't come from anywhere near Milan and was of completely different proportions, although he couldn't remember what these were. So Atkinson tried again, via Peter Garnier, who appealed for information in Autocar. BP Zurich wrote to say Elcosina was an Italian brew equivalent to BP Racing Fuel No. 4. but Air-Commodore F. R. Banks of Hawker-Siddeley said this fuel was popular with the French racing fraternity before the war, and was called Elco-Zina, consisting basically of 46% ethyl alcohol, 48% benzine, the remainder being ether, etc. Alternatively, wrote the man who developed the fuel that was used in the winning Schneider Trophy seaplanes, the constituents were 30% ethyl alcohol, 25% benzole, 20% ether and 25% free spirit. That was the end of the trail.

I see that I am quoted as saying to Mr. Atkinson : " Can't recall it. Could have been petrol with a bit of benzole in it. By and large, the alcohol brews came later, when supercharger pressures went up." I must have been pretty busy at the time or did not realise the gravity of the situation, or I should have referred BP to a book published between the wars by the Lonsdale Library and called "Motor Racing," wherein the late L. G. Callingham of Shell had a chapter on racing fuels and in which that used in the G.P. Delage cars is quoted as Eleosine, with a content of 50/50 ethyl alcohol and benzole, plus 1% of castor oil to lubricate supercharger and inlet valve stems. More confusion! This seems to be the time for Motor Sport readers to come to the aid of Mr. Conway and BP. Can anyone who remembers a racing fuel called something like Elcosine please tell us about it ?

W. B.


Stop Press

We regret to report the death, at the age of 83, of O. H. Goodall of the Morgan Motor Co., who joined the Malvern firm in 1925 and took part in important competition events driving 3-wheeler and 4-wheeler Morgans, and of Bert Fountain, a Committee-member of the Hants & Berks M.C. Data is required to assist in rebuilding a 1923 Cubitt in Australia. A 1925 Daimler is in danger of being broken up in Greenwich and a 1932 Austin 12/4 is available free in Surrey. Bardic Ltd., whose electric torches we have repeatedly praised, have introduced a new 10-1/2 in. long 3-cell model, the Bardic 66. Lesney's latest Matchbox miniatures are of a VW caravan to 66:1 scale and a D-series Ford refuse truck to 85:1 scale, both priced at 2s. David Ogilvy has been appointed General Manager of the Shuttleworth Collection of historic aeroplanes and cars.