EXPERIENCES WITH A 100 M.P.H. FRONTENAC FORD.
By D. and M. CONAN DOYLE,
SINCE, dirt-track racing is becoming popular, we think readers of MoToR SPO} Ir might be interested in a description of the only real dirt-track racing car in England. ‘1 his car is the Indianapolis type of Frontenac such as, driven by Joe Murrhy, won the Indianapolis race of 1921 at an average speed of 87 m.p.h. In fact, the sister car of our bus, driven by Mr. A. E. Moss, came in 13th in the Indianapolis of two Or three years ago, out of 42 starters, at an average speed of 84 m.p.h. for the 500 miles.
‘The car is different from the ordinary American Fronty-Ford racer, as although it has the same stroke and bore as the Fronty-Ford, the engine itself is not just converted by the cylinder heads, but was made as a Frontenac by Arthur Chevrolet, the American racing designer and brother of the famous manufacturer. NN here we hope to score in dirt-track racing over here is by its colossal acceleration and enormous wheel track. The base chassis is only seven feet long, and the track is five ,feel w:de. The overall length of the car is eleven and a half feet, including the petrol tank behind.
In appearance she is a very typical American speed car—long bonnet and well-cowled scuttle, flexible whipcord-bound steering wheel, outside brake and exhaust pipe, two bucket seats, no tail, but just a large 25 gallon petrol tank and a spare wheel.
With regard to the engine itself, a special oversize balanced crankshaft is fitted and connectirg rods are lightened and balanced. The fly-wheel is dismantled, all magnetos and coils being removed, and is turned to 10 ins. diameter. If the full size wheel is used, it will fly to pieces when high revs. are reached. Special aluminium pistons are fitted and pressure oiling to all bearings through drilled crankshaft, a water pump being also fitted. The compression of the standard racing Fronty head is 8o lbs. The wheels used on dirt-tracks are 28 ins. x 4 ins. Standard spring is used throughout, but one flexible connecting shackle is substituted for a fixed shackle, front and rear. Special double radius rods are used for the front axle.
Her acceleration is most extraordinary. With her engine de-tuned for road use, I can reach a speed of 75 m.p.h. in 25 seconds from a standing start. When this car was properly tuned, Mr. A. E. Moss, giving an exhibition run at the Cambridge University speed trials, covered the 600 yards, of Hatley Park Hill in 23 seconds from a standing start, thus making the record for the course. The car left the ground completely at the top.
Top gear is seldom used on the road, except on very long straights, and as yet we have had no opportunity to test its maximum speed, but it must be fairly high, as just over 100 m.p.h. has been reached on top gear.
Driving our Frontenac on the road is a very mixed pleasure, for living at a certain popular, highly-situated Sussex golfing resort, where anything that is up-to-date is unpopular, the car is heartily disliked. The police of the neighbourhood are very good chaps, but the local elders are quite unable to distinguish between safe fast driving, and road-hogging, althorgh, unfortunately, many of them favour the latter style when at the wheel themselves.
A great drawback to this car is the frightful difficulty experienced in starting it. We generally allow about two hours every morning in which to start her. Five or six of us assail the garage, drag the car out, and having ki-gassed her, etc., we swing her until we are all tiredout or until one of us has broken a knuckle. We then push her to a conveniently near hill, after having shoved her down it for or five times without result, we phone the local garage to send a lorry down, and in the meantime we stand on the side of the road, an oil v and bad-tempered crew, surrounded by an interested crowd of tradesmen, telegraph boys, caddies, nursemaids, etc., and we are entertained by such remarks as ” I,00k’ere, Jarge, that be his steering,” pointing to the speedometer cable. “I see ‘im go by ole John’s farm at three mile a minute yesternight.” “Ole Jorkins’ll ‘aye ‘im, ‘e will. ‘E’s an ‘ot un, ‘e is!”
At last the lorry arrives, and we bitch the car on behind, and after about a mile of towing the engine starts, we cut her loose and then the engine stops. After about another half-mile of this the car gets going properly and away we hop.