Although record breaking is by no means so frequent as was the case when devoted disciples could live quite nicely on the bonus payments connected with this aspect of competition motoring, providing they were careful not to notch speeds up by more than a few m.p.h. at a time, thus giving them fresh targets easy to shatter, the art, it is nice to know, is by no means defunct.
At the abandoned 3.1-mile unbanked Miramas circuit near Marseilles, Ford of France have been busy establishing new long duration records with a normal 1.2-litre Ford Taunus 12M f.w.d. saloon. They have broken records held since 1933 by Citroën, covering a total of 358,000 km. at an average of 65.71 m.p.h., inclusive of pit-stops.
The attempt was shared by six drivers, under the direction of M. Jean Pelletier, of B.P. France’s Technical Division. One of the drivers, hardly surprisingly, fell asleep after the car had done 56,867 laps and left the course. He was able to get to the depot, where repairs were effected with hammers and elastic cords carried in the Ford. It then set off again, day and night, to complete 320,000 km., when a party of journalists visited the track. It is still circulating as I write, and rumour says Ford France intend to run it the distance of earth from moon (238,840 miles) or possibly destruction. Meanwhile, a Ford Consul Cortina took the 100,000-km. record at 72.1 m.p.h.
Several thoughts arise from this demonstration of Taunus 12M toughness. In the past rival French firms used to break one another’s records at Montlhéry—will Citroën, or Simca, or Renault have a go at these records by the American-German Ford? I have often pondered on the possibilities of a Destruction-Race, won by the car to run longest, conforming to a minimum speed, and if you like, sans any depot servicing apart from refuelling. Such a race should be possible at Miramas.
Finally, a sort of wistful throw-back to Brooklands’ conditions could be enacted by having a V.S.C.C. race-day at Montlhéry. If Montlhéry is too expensive to hire or vintage cars not permissible there, how about a V.S.C.C. rally to Marseilles next summer, for some short races round Miramas? Over to Tim Carson!
Reverting to Ford’s interest in record breaking, this is evident in the recent onslaught by four Ford Comet Caliente sports saloons on World’s and International Class C records at Daytona Speedway, when the World’s 40,000-mile record at 108 m.p.h. and World’s records for 14, 15, 16 and 17 days fell to these Lincoln-Mercury built cars. A fifth car took the International Class C 500-mile record at 131.7 m.p.h. and the 1,000-mile record at 129.8 m.p.h., but apparently these were soon bettered by a Studebaker team, at first by Mrs. Nieland’s 4.7-litre V8 Hawk, which also took the 1,000-km. record at 135.3 m.p.h. and then by V. and J. Granatelli, who cleaned up this and the Ford Class C records with a supercharged Studebaker Daytona convertible. Such competition is healthy and the use of virtually standard cars for attacking high-speed long-distance records is interesting.