RUMBLINGS, July 1939

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Catalogue-Car Contests

WE come now to two classic sports-car races, and there is no gainsaying the growing interest in, and importance of, these events. First, we have the Light Car Club’s Three Hour Sports-Car Race at Brooklands on July 22nd, which gains much by the decrease in long-distance races at ‘Weybridge this year—the J.C.C. has definitely abandoned the 200 Miles Race—so that one hopes a better crowd will attend this time, and that a bigger entry will come in ; fifteen cars ran in the first race of this series last year. The regulations remain much as before, but there are now four categories (up to 1,100 c.c. ; 1,1011,500 c.c. ; 1,501-2,750 c.c. and 2,751—unlimited c.c.), and the handicap gives ten credit laps, six, two and nil, respectively, for each category. There are first, second and third prizes in each class, the Handicap prize, a One-Make team prize, and a Club team prize. I really think the L.C.C. deserves great credit for wording the regulations so that non-standard cars appertaining to road-equipped racing Wicks really will be excluded. For example, pump fuels only may be used and the brand has to be specified on the entry form. Then cars must have bodywork which conforms with catalogue specification both internally and externally (so much more sensible than a mass of minimum and maximum dimensions) and must have a real hood, while engines can only be started, and restarted after a pit-stop, on the starter. What is more, compression-ratio, carburetters, ignition system (except for special plugs), fuel tank and feed, lubrication system including sump size, shape and material, material and design of cylinder head, inductionsystem, exhaust system including silencer, gearratios, and general chassis details, may not depart one iota from catalogue specification. That is really excellent, providing no one beats the scrutineers. Incidentally, the dodge of getting a special car in by printing a special catalogue for it is guarded against by Rule 3, which says that the race is for types which have been produced in” reasonable numbers as a manufacturer’s catalogued model,” and by a clause in Rule 4 which announces that ” the decision of the scrutineer is final, and the Club reserves the right to exclude any car which, in its opinion is not within the spirit of the regulations.” Which is a very genuine attempt to get a race for genuine standard or nearstandard sports-cars which are quite practicable everyday touring and town cars, and which shows that this object should be possible if you have the courage of the Light Car Club in wording your regulations. Indeed, the only alterations which seem to be possible relate to the use of non-standard crankshafts, camshafts and valves, which would not be of much avail in conjunction with normal fuel and standard compres sion-ration and carburetters. So often organisers allow bigger or additional carburetters to be used and then the ordinary owner has the unhappy feeling that a considerable increase in performance attributable to this alteration alone has been realised in the competing cars, and at a cost that to him is by no means inconsiderable. So I am glad that the L. C.C. will have none of it, They permit non-catalogue brake linings and shock-absorbers, probably because these are factors which affect the safety of the car racing over the sinuous Campbell circuit, and they allow racing tyres to be used which are a size above or below standard if the exact equivalent is unobtainable —that, again, is wise, because racing tyres are to be encouraged in a race of this sort, and one size larger or one size smaller cannot materially alter the gearratio. Copper-plating of cylinder heads is also permitted, but I presume only to enable those owners to enter who have already had such work done and who would be loth to change it or to buy a new bead, and who, by this ruling, will only need to put in a standard gasket or a suitable compression platecopperising is usually done only in conjunction with an increase of compression-ratio, and I do not imagine it will be of any particular advantage when the ratio has been brought back to standard. The only rule I do regret is that barring supercharged cars. Not that there are many catalogue blown jobs now in existence, but it may lose the race a few Alta, Alfa-Romeo RUMBLINGS—continued and Bugatti 57SC entries. Surely, if the scrutineers can cope with the regulations as drawn up to apply to unblown cars they could do so in respect of cars having left the works in blown form when originally delivered ? Apart from which, a most interesting and valuable race should result and I confess I am anxious to know whether the Delahaye, Darracq and Delage cars which ran in the Invitation Road-Car Race at the B.A.R.C. meeting on. Whit-Monday will come in under these rules. Entries are limited to thirty cars and close on July 3rd at single fees and on July 10th at late fees. The race starts at 2.30 p.m. on July

22nd. There are only trophies as prizes, but the Prestige possibilities should entice works entries nevertheless, and amateurs should come in for the joy of the dice at what are quite reasonable entry fees. Full details from A. E. S. Curtis, at ” Levallon,” Longdown Lane South, Ewell, Surrey (Epsom 9110). The Stewards are ” Sammy ” Davis and W. E. A. Norman. The other important British sports-car race is the R.A.C. Tourist Trophy, second only to the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. It is due to be contested on September 2nd, at Donington. The regulations are much more lenient than those governing the L.C.C. event, because the R.A.C. seeks to encourage experimentation. There is quite a lot to be said for this line of thought, which also holds good at Le Mans. I remember going down to Feltham some years ago and coming upon the team of Ulster Aston-Martins which had just returned from winning the much-covetted Team Prize in the Aids T.T. Those responsible for the team just would not be drawn into an argument as to how far, and in what ways, the cars differed from the production ” Ulster ” cars, but what they were pleased about was that the cars had all been driven to the docks and back and could be regarded as quite reasonable road cars, which a short run in one of them convinced us was very true. Now obviously cars such as these, of very great performance, yet able to use pump fuel, normal plugs, run comfortably at low speeds and not shock the the driver and/or police in built-up areas, are of considerable interest to quite a few enthusiasts. Consequently, the makers not only learn certain valuable lessons about things they may desire to know before modifying the production models for next season, but they are likely to be able to sell the victorious cars, even a few replicas if they are lucky to intrigued and wealthy sportsmen. Whereas such people seldom have any interest in rough, noisy, temperamental road-equipped racing-cars such as used to qualify to run in lots of Continental, so-called-sportscar, events. In addition, the T.T. caters for the small firm about to enter the sports-car market but not building a very definite catalogue line, as yet, while bigger manufacturers can claim that the cars are sufficiently sports-cars to add prestige to the stamina of their production models, even if, unlike the L.C.C. race, the T.T. is no fair basis for a comparison of catalogue-car performance. So the T.T. is a most useful and important event, though it is curious that, in spite of modifications permitted, superchargers are quite definitely, like the Gradua gear of old, barred. One wonders whether the organisers fear that racing-type cars will slide in if they allow super chargers, or whether they feel that everything else will be outclassed against even reasonably-standard blown machinery ! At Le Mans, standard puffers are allowed. One possible, but I believe untried, means of putting a damper on racing-type entries would be to start all cars from stone-cold and to forbid a complete change of plugs, either throughout the race, or before a given distance—it might be permissible to change not more than one plug at a time, so necessitating four stops in the case of a four-cylinder car that attempted to warm-up on plugs too soft to withstand full bore. I know that advances in fuels and in plug-design have made even quite high-revving, high-compression (in fact, semi-racing) engines much less faddy in this particular respect in recent years, but it might play havoc with cars force-induced to

a naughtily, non-catalogue degree. However, it must be emphasised that there is no need of this ruling in the T.T., in which again (and also at Le Mans) pump fuel is obligatory. Last year’s ruling aneant minimum weight and wheelbase in relation to engine size, A.I.A.C.R. bodywork, and one carburetter per pair of cylinders remain. Cars which have run in a Formula G.P. are no longer barred, so the V12 Delahayes may run this time. The small cars get an easier handicap-1,100 c.c. 16 credit laps, 4-litres 9, 2-litres 5, 3-litres only one, and over 8-litres on scratch. The race is over 312 miles and the winner now gets the Trophy and £200, with £1 00 for second place and £75 for third place. Class winners : 50 each. Details from the R.A.C., Pall Mall, London, S.W.1.

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