tri M b ings k BOANERGES
Round the Track.
Brooklands at this time of year begins to be one of the world’s busiest spots, likewise the tuning firms whose premises stand within its boundaries. Thomson and Taylor as usual are full of work, the most interesting exhibit being John Cobb’s Napier-engined car, unfortunately ” hush-hush ” till next month. It will not be ready in time for the Whitsun meeting, but when one sees the amount of design and machining which has gone into it so far, it is not surprising that it has taken some time to build.
I must admit I am always fascinated by the various Leyland Thomas cars which are kept there. I had not quite realised before that Wisdom’s car was not the seven-litre which used to hold the track record, but actually an eight litre built for Howey, with the former car’s body fitted to it. Thomas’s car is now fitted with a four-seater body, the ” tonneau ” of which is filled with an enormous petrol tank, and bears the legend “Bouts Special No. 1” on the bonnet.
A 11 Litre V8.
The ranks of the Shelsley Specials last year were strengthened by the Harker, but an unfortunate accident during practising prevented it appearing in the Hill Climb. “T. and T.’s ” are putting the final touches on the rebuilt car, so I was recently able to examine it closely. The engine has two crank-shafts carried in plain bearings in front and rollers behind, and the two fourcylinder blocks are inclined to one another at 20 degrees, Each crank-shaft carries a straight pinion at its rear end, and the drive is taken through a third central pinion in
mesh with the other two. A Villiers blower driven by silent chain is carried above the two blocks, and draws its mixture from an enormous S.U. carburettor at the rear end. Side valves are used, carried at the outside of each block.
The power-unit is fitted into a Lombard chassis, and the four-speed gear-box has special ratios suitable for Shelsley. which is climbed mostly on third. The engine has been entirely designed and built by Mr. Harker himself, and is reckoned to give 130 h.p. and a road-speed at peak revs (6,500) of about 120 m.p.h. The short crankshafts are free from any periods and the engine is, of course, very compact.
The chassis has been strengthened and modified, notably as regards brakes. Stripped of the body, as the car will be run at Shelsley, it weighs 12i cvvts., and thus has a similar power-weight ratio to that of the “Terror.”
A short run on the car proved to us its “accelerations foudroyantes ” while up to 3,000 r.p.m., which was as far as we went, no signs of vibration were felt. At 75 m.p.h. over a very bumpy road it was perfectly controllable, which says a great deal for the new chassis.
The International Trophy.
ISHOULD like to add my quota to the general congratulations showered on the J.C.C. for the great success of their International Trophy Race. The handicapping was extraordinarily accurate, and a good deal more so than most of us thought it would be.
Incidentally, I believe I am right in saying that the unique handicapping system used in the race was actually originated by the General Secretary of the Club, Ar. L. F. Dyer. It certainly was a brain-wave, and the way in which” Bunny” (as he is known to his intimates) carried the whole thing through to its thoroughly successful end is something of which he may well be proud.
The race was notable for an excessive number of retirements. This was partly due, no doubt, to the fact that it was a shortish race, and so everyone was going as near the Emit as they dared. This would account for the engine failures, and the transmission sufferers may very well blame the rough surface of the track. It was a pity that Lewis’s Alfa Romeo was the only large car to finish. This robbed the race of excitement towards the end, and Don deserves special sympathy
for having to retire only 8 lap:; from the finish. Lots of people have hinted that Straight should have eased up when he found he had a clear lead over Campbell and Lewis, but the other side of the question is worth considering. To begin with, a lap lead is little in a short race, and is quickly wiped out by the quickest pit-stop. This disposes of the idea of Straight having a “comfortable ” lead. Then, it was reasonable to suppose that the car should be capable of withstanding hard driving for the whole distance. After all, Varzi and Nuvolari never relax for a moment in one of their great duels, pressing the cars to the limit the whole time.
Motor Racing on the Continent.
Motor racing is enjoying a tremendous popularity on the Contient. Already this season there have been four Grand Prix races which were not held last year, namely at Pau, Alessandria and Tripoli. True the Targa Florio and the Prix Royal of Rome have been postponed, but in any case there is no lack of entries— or spectators. For example, it was decided by the A.C. de F. to limit the number of entries for the French G.P. to 20, providing, of course, that more than 20 cars were entered. When at last the list closed it was found that 30 drivers had entered, and so high was the quality of the field that only two were excluded.
And this in spite of the gloomy prophecies of people in this country who still persist in saying that there are too many races on the Calendar !
A New Thrill for Land-Lubbers!
I have had a new thrill. The other day the motor
boating member of our staff mysteriously beguiled me into a car and hustled me down to Lambeth Pier. ” I’ve got a new boat here,” he explained. “It will give you a real thrill… Yes, sir.” Now I am a land-lubber, and when I am put in a boat I am literally out of my element. However, I looked around, expecting to see a substantial speed-boat on the lines of those craft at South Coast towns. “There it is ! ” said the M.B.M., and pointed to a very normal-looking dinghy, at the rear of which was slung an outboard engine which my colleague informed me was a “Johnson 32.” I felt relieved. Such a small boat would be incapable of going very
• fast, so I took my seat in the middle of the dinghy and gripped the steering wheel with a confident grasp.
My companion busied himself with the starting cord, crouched on the floor of the boat. I was to steer ; he would manipulate the throttle. My misgivings were first aroused when I was told to keep the wheel absolutely steady when he opened out, and I felt still more uncomfortable when I was warned against trying to correct skids on the turns. “But this boat . . .” I expostu
lated. Surely “it is too small and slow to have to worry about that sort of thing ? ” I was told to do what I was told. We started. As the boat began to plane I realised that things were not quite what I had expected them to be, and then suddenly the throttle was opened wide. We shot forward, and immediately the boat assumed a feel that was a cross between what I imagine a bucking broncho and “Bluebird “must be like. So far, so good, and I began to feel exhilirated. The dinghy was not decked over, I was sitting rather high, with my feet braced against the sides, and life was very pleasant. We turned, doing quite a fair “front-wheel “skid which I resisted the temptation to alter, and we headed back towards Lambeth Bridge. Then I heard a shout of glee behind me, and we slowed right down. A voice over my shoulder said, Do you see that great coal drifter coming downstream ? ” I nodded. “Well, we’re going to go over its wash as fast as we can.” I made no reply. ” When you get through the bridge, turn half left and strike the wash square. Don’t attempt to turn the wheel, and hold on tight.” With that we shot forward again towards our doom (or so it seemed to me !) The great black and red drifter was making a tremendous wash, and in a moment we were through the bridge and heading straight for it. I saw the wave coming and braced myself. Bang ! we hit it, and the boat leapt out of the water. Crash I we came down right on top of another wave, which hurled us clean out of the water again. Now the boat was all broncho, and no
incredibly hard, and my anxiety as to the strength of the dinghy was not quietened by the fact that the banks of the river seemed a long, long way off.
At last we found some smooth water, and headed back to the Pier, approaching at a suicidal pace which changed to a mere crawl when the throttle was closed.
Stiffly I scrambled back on to terra firma.
” Well, what do you think of it ? ” asked the motor boating member of our staff.
I told him.
Once upon a time a racing-driver had a lady friend. Now this racing driver had a great rival, whose car was just as fast as his, only a good deal older. One day at a race meeting this rival kept on winning. In the end the lady friend, being a thorough sport, felt that she simply had to express her feelings, so she rushed up to the rival, embraced him, and congratulated him on the fair way in which he had driven the whole afternoon.
Isn’t that a pretty picture ?
Miscellany, January 2003
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