Sorting out speed!

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(Continued from the October, 1943. issue.)

THE next goal, after 120 m.p.h., is undisputably 150 m.p.h., not because it is more difficult to add 30 m.p.h. than, say, 25 or 35 m.p.h. to the  two-miles-a-minute gait, but because  we humans prefer ” round figures.” The Americans claimed that they had attained this sort of velocity by 1919, claiming 149.86 m.p.h.  for De Palma’s 12-cylinder Packard, and 156 m.p.h. for  Milton’s twin-engined  Duesenberg in  1920. But these records, doubtless one-way runs, were never recognised by the  A.I.A.C.R., and the first official record of 150 m.p.h. being exceeded came in March, 1926, when Campbell averaged 150.87  m.p.h. at Pendine with the re-streamlined V12 Sunbeam. The first  man to exceed 150 m.p.h. for any  distance was Norman Smith, with the ” Golden-Arrow “-like Enterprize, powered by a Schneider Trophy Napier ” Lion ” engine, who averaged 164.08 for 10 miles in 1932. At this stage we should not overlook Mrs. Stewart’s lap record at Montlhery, made in 1930 with the little 2-litre Derby-Miller, at nearly 148 m.p.h. Stuck’s 6-litre Auto-Union managed 151.55 for 50 miles in 1934, hampered,  moreover, by Avus. The coveted World’s ” Hour ” went at over 150 (152.12) in 1935—by Cobb’s Napier-Railton. Over 500 miles, Eyston’s unblown  R-R ” Kestrel “-engined f.w.d. ” Speed-of-the-Wind ” exceeded 152 on the Salt Flats in 1936. The same combination first exceeded 151 for 5,000 miles.

The next ” landmark ” is three-miles-a-minute, after we have disposed of the class 150s by saying that in  1935 the Class B One Hour record went to 152.15 m.p.h. ( Jenkins-Duesenberg) and that Maserati has S.S. records in Class D at 155. There is also the 11/2litre Miller’s 164 m.p.h. Curiously, no one exceeded 180 m.p.h. before the magic 200  m.p.h. was exceeded in 1927. It was not until 1936 that Caracciola and a Mercedes exceeded the target speed over 10 miles and again he then bettered 200. Moreover, over all greater distances this figure has yet to be reached, the nearest being the World’s 200-Mile record, standing at 177.441 m.p.h. to the credit of Ab Jenkins and the ” Mormon Meteor “—and it has stood since 1937. No one has approached this speed in the classes, unless they have also exceeded 200. So we come to 200 m.p.h., still a figure outside the realm of ordinary  racing cars, whereas by 1934 the  mono-posto Alfa could do about 150 m.p.h., and in 1937  Mercedes-Benz G.P. cars did nearly 190 m.p.h. on occasion. 200 m.p.h. was first exceeded at Daytona by Segrave’s famous  twin-engined 1,000-h.p. Sunbeam, which did 203.79 m.p.h. in 1927. We find that by 1936 Mercedes had exceeded 207 m.p.h. for 10 miles, and that the next year a 5-litre Auto-Union took records up to 10 miles, all at appreciably over 211 m.p.h., while 200 m.p.h. was first exceeded by a 1,100-c.c. and 11/2 litre class car (Gardner’s M.G.) in 1939. Unofficially, the 3-litre Stutz” Black Hawk” did 200 in 1928. In 1929 the first British records were established at over 200 m.p.h.—by Campbell’s Napier-Arrol-Aster at Verneuk Pan. The next jump is usually to 300 m.p.h. That speed was first attained by a motor-car in 1935, when Campbell did 301.13 at Bonneville in the Rolls-Royce ” R ” “Bluebird.”

Nothing in the classes or long-distance categories touches that, excepting  Eyston’s 312 m.p.h. in Class A with 73 1/4 litres of Thunderbolt No. 1 in 1936,  Caracciola’s speed of 268.9 in Class D in 1938, with 5.5 litres of Mercedes-Benz, and Cobb’s 270 m.p.h. for 10 miles with the Railton in 1939. So we come to Cobb’s magnificent absolute-369.7 m.p.h. with the twin Napier-engined 48-litre Railton, just before war broke out.

 

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