Rumblings, July 1950



The “500” movement, since it has been elevated to the status of Formula III, is forging ahead at a great pace. Both at Silverstone, where the 500-c.c. curtain-raiser stole the show from the G.P. de l’Europe, and at Goodwood on Whit-Saturday when the 500-c.c. International Trophy Race with £500 in prize monies, was the major event on the card, the “500s” have provided remarkably close and exciting racing.

There are now sufficient makes in the field to maintain the interest, the cars are amply fast and this coupled with some very forceful driving, makes a fine spectacle, while the technical problems presented and the solutions adopted are quite as absorbing as those that concern Grand Prix cars. So the 500 outlook seems “Set Fair”.

Briefly, here are details of some of the cars now challenging the long run of well-deserved Cooper victories :—

The Emeryson: The Emerys answer to Formula III racing. Steel tube (2 1/2 in. dia. by 16 s.w.g.) chassis. Front engine location. Front-drive, using B.S.A. stub-axles, hubs and drive shafts: Wishbone suspension front and back, with bungee-cord “springs.” Rack and pinion steering. Eight-inch hydraulically-operated back brakes. Single front brake, cable-actuated, 4.50 by 15 tyres. Dry weight about 540 lb. Engine is either “Speedway” J.A.P. or a 50-degree V-twin J.A.P. Special based on ex-Fernihough and Worters bits. Rubber mounting. Corners very fast, but retired at Brands Hatch, crashed at Silverstone, retired at Goodwood.

The lotas: Very neat and beautifully finished. Dick Caesar’s latest child. Rear-placed Triumph Twin or J.A.P. engine. Torsional rubber suspension, hydraulically-damped. Welded tubular chassis like that of the Freikaiserwagen. Non-detachable wire wheels. Wing-Comdr. Frank Aikens, who flies night bombers in the R.A.F., beat the Coopers at Silverstone in his Triumph-Iota, but was flagged off at Goodwood because a shock-absorber came adrift.

The Rhiando-Trimax: Designed by Spike Rhiando of the odd garb, American accent and big Buick: for 500, 750 and 1,100-c.c. racing. Is, therefore, rather heavy. Stressed-skin body-cum chassis. Morris Eight kingpins and bushes. Independent suspension all round, by swing arms of 14 s.w.g. mild steel, and adjustable torsional rubber units. Rubber fuel tanks; chain and cable steering; 8-in. Girling front brakes with cast-iron lined hiduminium drums; single rear brake; 5.25 by 16 front, 6.00 by 16 rear tyres; magnesium alloy wheels. Rear-placed “Speedway” J.A.P. engine and Norton gearbox.

The Arengos: The Frys’ “pet” designed by C. G. Arengo. Slide suspension units with single wishbone at rear. J.A.P. or Norton rear-placed engine. Joe Fry was successful at Lulsgate in the .J.A.P.-powered car.

The Kiefts: Made a first appearance at Lydstep. Frame of rolled channel-section light alloy. Double wishbone suspension With torsional rubber suspension units. Shock-absorbers to be fitted. Light-alloy wheels with detachable rims. Vincent-H.R.D. engine. A production venture of Cyril Kieft, driven at Goodwood by Lord Strathearron, K. A. Gregory and L. Leston.

The J.B.S.: Originally the Cowlan, this is the idea of how a “500” should look worked out by an ex-Speedway rider, Alf Bottoms. Rear suspension by his own system of telescopic strut, oil damped; front suspension like that of a Cooper. Tried a Manx Norton engine, now has a “double-knocker,” but wants a twin-cylinder. Won the big race at Blandford on Whit-Monday.

Those are just a selection of prominent 500s, which emphasise the diversity and technical interest of those cars. In addition you have the Parsenn which Dennis Poore drove at Goodwood as a change from his 3.8-litre Alfa-Romeo and perhaps as a foretaste of his own sprint car that is forming, the Grose, Pugh, Blue Flash, Parker, Strang, Wasp, C.F.S., Adams-Wood, Cobra, F.H.B., Milli-Union, G.S.3., Bindon-Turner, Bond, Cutler, Russell and Smith—all present-day competitors of the extremely well-established Coopers with their J.A.P., Norton, and B.S.A. engines. From abroad come others; the Effyhs seen at Goodwood, the Parnhard-engined D.B.s from France and the Swiss Este with Crosley engine and five speeds, for instance. Yes, the Formula III situation is intriguing and the cars deserving of close study whenever you can get near them, at places, such as Goodwood, where you are allowed in the Paddock. Those who wish to keep fully abreast of 500 happenings should read Iota, magazine of the 500 Club. It isn’t a too-closely guarded secret that it is the almost single-handed work of Dean Delamont, who holds an important position in the R.A.C. Competitions Department. He writes very professionally, and by changing publication day to suit the calendar ensures topicality for his race reports. Iota provides a very pleasing summary of each months happenings amongst the 500s. [And I’m not writing this because I was “mentioned” in it last month! I really do rate Iota as it Good Thing.–Ed.]

The 500 season is by no means over, and as we write this competition should be mounting to a climax. France, Sweden, Belgium and Italy still have Formula III fixtures to run off and over here will be the Brands Hatch racing on August 7th (don’t miss this!) and a race for the 500s at Silverstone on the Daily Express day organised by the B.R.D.C. (August 26th).

Before leaving this subject, what about a 500-c.c. road-car, to off-set the cruel tax on petrol ? At one time the Marwyn people had the idea in mind and the Cooper has appeared in two-seater sports form, only with Triumph Twin, Vauxhall, M.G. and Rover engines instead of a single-lunger. The Editor of Iota is sympathetic, for in his January issue he dug up details and photographs of the little 498-c.c. Scott-engined single-seater road coupé which the late Humphrey Symons had built for himself in 1928, when he was the Motor’s “Grande Vitesse” of those days. We would echo Delamont’s sentiments when he wrote: “The possibilities of a 500-c.c. vehicle, or even a cyclecar at all, as offering simple and reliable transport in these days of economy, seems to have been all too little considered.” Harper, Fernihough, Nomad and J.B.M. tried it at various times in the past, of course, and Bond has the right idea to-day.