The Records Book

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Between the World Wars, and even before 1914, record-breaking activity was a popular pursuit of racing drivers and those in possession of suitable vehicles, and World’s and International Class records were recognised over distances of a kilometre (standing and flying start) to 300,000 kilometres and for durations of one hour to 133 days, and ratified by the F.I.A. in Paris. In those well-organised inter-war years the R.A.C. published, at the modest price of one shilling, an annual list of all World’s, International Class, C.I. and British records, and for a fee of 10s. sent out printed notices of all alterations to this annual records-book as soon as fresh records were confirmed.

This useful service was a war casualty, in spite of the growth and status of the R.A.C.’s Competition Department, and nowadays it is very difficult and inconvenient to discover the current state of records, so that confusion, even in the correct designation of the records themselves, frequently results.

Fortunately, we have just discovered that what the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall does not do, the United States Auto Club in Indiana includes in its Yearbook, together with American National records and their sub-divisions.

Looking through this list of records is still quite nostalgic! The great bulk of Citroen’s 1933 long-distance figures stand and 81 of them ranked as World’s records at the end of last year, when the U.S.A.C. list was compiled. Some of these are at speeds below 58 m.p.h. The only other pre-war World’s record is the 48-hour record set up at 148.63 m.p.h. in 1936 in the Mormon Meteor at Bonneville, if Ab. Jenkins’ 1940 records are excluded.

Among the International Class records, Rosemeyer’s Class B 10-mile record, set up on the autobahn in 1937, at 223.9 m.p.h. in an Auto-Union, is intact, along with Jenkins’ long-distance records for 1,000 kilometres and over in the Duesenberg, dating back to 1935. There are some pre-war Class C Delahaye and Bugatti records still standing. Over long distances and durations in this class some 1937 Matford-Yacco figures still remain unbroken, as well as four records established in 1934 by Marchand and his team, using an Austin, and, even more surprising, four records dating back to 1929, to the credit of Hotchkiss. These range from 13 to 16 days, at less than 66 1/4 m.p.h., if anyone has a 3 to 5-litre car and craves a strenuous holiday !

Coming to Class D, Caracciola’s great runs at 247-248 m.p.h in the Mercedes-Benz over the kilometre and mile in 1939 have never been bettered by an under-3-litre car, and his s.s. mile at 127.1 m.p.h. remains. The long-distance honours in this category as has been remarked, are still in the name of Citroen, established 33 years ago, for the V6 Ford saloon only took a few of these. In Class F a smaller Citroen holds 16 records but the Simca-Aronde running at Miramas in 1960 has broken up these 1933 figures.

Fantastically, the Hon. Mrs. Bruce’s run with her husband and an A.C. in 1927 yet retains a couple of records in Class E the better of these the 15,000 kilometre record at a splendid 75.73 m.p.h., and a few later but still pre-war records are shared by the Yacco Special and the Yacco Rosalie VII, driven by the persistant Marchand et al. The same team hold masses of the longer records in Class F, again with a Citroen, and Heckel’s 1935 4-day record with the Adler-Trumpf at Avus hasn’t fallen. Incidentally, the lasting value of record-breaking is emphasised by three records to the credit of Alan Hess’ Austin A40 in this class, set up in 1950.

Amongst some impressive post-war Austin Healey Sprite records in Class G (750-1,100 c.c.), Goldie Gardner’s f.s. kilometre, mile and 5-mile figures with the M.G., made at Dessau in 1939, are intact, the first two at over 203 m.p.h. and, surprise, surprise, a couple of Brooklands’ records remain, those of Appleton’s Appleton-Riley, for the s.s. kilometre and mile, at 82.1 and 91.3 m.p.h., respectively. Moreover, in Class H, preserve of the 750 c.c. cars, Denly’s 5 and 10-kilometre and 10-mile f.s. records at Montlhery in the M.G. Midget are as new as the day on which they were established in 1933, as is Kohlrauch’s s.s. mile in the M.G. at Gyon in 1935 (93.42 m.p.h.) and Dodson’s s.s. kilometre in the Austin, of 83.6 m.p.h., set up at Brooklands in 1936. Quite a few of Lurani’s 1939 Niblio records remain in Class I and two of Gush’s 1934 Vitesse records in Class J, but the second-oldest records still on the books are the Class I (350-750 c.c.) 2,000 kilometres and 12 hours, to the credit of Koenig et al. They made them at Montlhery in 1930. Some Yacco, A.E.C. and Hannomag pre-war diesel records also remain.

Now why should we have to rely on America to find out all these interesting things ?

Coming to modern times, I append the existing state of play in respect of the kilometre, hour and 24-hour records-now clearly out of reach of amateurs !—-W.B.