1927 IN RETROSPECT.
AS each year’s racing season draws to a close, it is as well to give a critical glance at its results and notice the features which mark its story, and in. this way it is perhaps opportune to attempt to investigate what 1927 has brought forth. The past year cannot be said to have been brilliantly successful from the motor racing point of view, though it was perhaps better than 1926, but nevertheless it presents certain characteristics which are worth noting.
In the first place France has now definitely regained her position as the premier motor racing country in the world. Hardly an important race in 1927 for racing cars proper has been won by a machine of any other nationality. If 1926 was a Bugatti year, the past season has been a truimphal procession for Delage. Out of the five races counting for the championship of the world, Louis Delage has won all four which were run in Europe ; but this is not the full tale of his triumph. In the French and British Grands Prix, three of his cars started and gained the first three places ; and in the European Grand Prix at Monza, a single car started and gained the first place. The Spanish Grand Prix was the least successful of the four, for in that race three Delages started and finished first and third, the remaining car falling by the wayside ; yet this result would more than satisfy most manufacturers. The Championship of the world has never before been won in so convincing a manner as by Louis Delage in 1927.
Though beaten this year in the championship races, Bugatti has not got out of the habit of carrying off the honours. A third consecutive Targa Florio win is another feather in France’s cap, to say nothing of the San Sebastian Grand Prix and the 200 Miles Race ; and wherever important amateur races have been held, Bugattis have almost always carried off the spoils.
As a contrast to this, it is not encouraging to look at the part that England has played in this year’s events. Enthusiasts in this country are sufficiently aware of our unenviable position, but it cannot be too often repeated that somehow we must pull ourselves together. The truth of the matter is that, as a motor racing country, England as become insignificant. In the French Grand Prix there is one amateur starter, who could not possibly hope to compete against cars with big organisations behind them ; in the other foreign championship races Great Britain is left unrepresented. Finally we run one of the races ourselves, and the only cars built in this country which can be found to compete in it are again two machines entered by amateurs. An impartial judge could only come to the conclusion, that we are incapable of doing any better..
The Italian Collapse.
At the same time, France’s other serious competitor, Italy, has suffered a complete eclipse. Of recent years the Italian cars entered have been expected to win every big race, and more often than not they have done so. This year their own big road race, the Targa Florio, has been left entirely in the hands of Bugatti, with only the small firm of Maserati attempting to put up any fight against the French cars. In the championship races, Italy is unrepresented at Montlhery and Brooklands, and again only one Maserati appears at San Sebastian. In her own race at Monza she is represented by two 0.M.’s, which having figured on the entry lists of the big races for the past two years without ever appearing are now old racing cars, and while able to beat the Americans, cannot live with the brilliant Delages.
It cannot but be regretted that the Delages, having swept all before them in Europe, were not entered for
the Indianapolis race. America, in fact, is becoming entirely isolated from the rest of the world as far as motor racing is concerned. The transatlantic 15oo c.c. racers are capable of winning races in their own country at far higher speeds than can be achieved with their rivals over here ; yet the best American racing cars are easily beaten on this side, as happened this year at Monza. The cars are apparently built for the same rules, yet the difference in conception and execution between an American ” straight ” track racer and a European machine which has to meet something like road conditions is becoming more and more marked every year. It is a great pity that the time seems to have arrived when it is practically impossible for European racers to run in American races, and vice versa, with any hope of success.
The Position of Design.
As far as design is concerned, 1927 may be said to have set the seal on what may be described as the standard layout for a modern 1500 c.c.-racer, as exemplified by the Delage. A straight-eight engine with a supercharger has been used this year by practically all the competitors in the big races—Delage, Talbot, Bugatti, Maserati, O.M., and Alvis. It is interesting to note, however, that Delage uses the Hotchkiss drive on his racing cars, which appears to be losing favour in the touring car world. Perhaps the most interesting design which the season has produced is the new r2-cylinder Fiat built on the principle of two 6-cylinder engines placed side by side with their crankshafts geared together. The idea is not new—it was used for aero engines by Fiat and Bugatti several years ago—but it is a novelty for a racing car, and the performance of the Fiats, after their brilliant victory in the Milan Grand Prix, will be watched with interest in 1928.
The Touring Car Races.
If the story of 1927 is not encouraging from a national point of view as far as the Grand Prix. type races are concerned, the performance of British cars in races for standard productions is distinctly meritorious. Thanks to Bentley, the two important touring car 24-hour events on the continent have both been won by British cars. The Grand Prix d’ Endurance came very near to being a British grand slam, and would have been but for a mere accident ; one can learn useful knowledge even from an accident, however, and in future it is certain that if one team has an undisputed superiority in speed over its rivals, it will not run in line ahead formation, and thus expose all its cars to elimination in a general mix-up. The victory, in spite of its accident of the crippled 3-litre Bentley driven by J. D. Benjafield and S. C. H. Davis, will always remain an epic, and even if the competition was not as keen as in the past, it is a great thing to have won a race with a car which was damaged in the early part of the race. The sequel to this in the form of the victory won by the 41-litre car in the Paris Grand Prix at Montlhery has proved to the hilt the present pre-eminence of Great Britain in this field of activity.