RUMBLINGS, June 1934
Hard of Hearing.
ASTUDY of pit-work during the International Trophy reminded me of a point which I have often noticed in this important aspect of motor-racing. This is what happens. A car comes in to refuel, and immediately it comes to a standstill three mechanics leap down and start work. Now by the rules of the race only three people are allowed on the track, and the driver must accordingly get into the pit. Several times at Brooklands I saw drivers remaining in their seats, while their pit managers shouted to them—” Get out of the car, old man ! ” Still the drivers sat there, in spite of stronger orders from the pit. Then I suddenly realised that they could not hear a word, being deafened by the roar of the engine and their ears being tightly closed by a thick helmet.
The position is a difficult one, for eagle-eyed marshals refuse to let the third mechanic start work until the driver is out of the car. Meanwhile the seconds tick by, and the pit manager is roused to desperation, bellowing —” Get out of the car, blast you ! “
The only way to avoid this contretemps is for the driver always to leave the cockpit.
Built to Last.
One of the interesting things about the race was the re-appearance of a number of two-litre unsupercharged Bugattis. The one owned by Selby, which first saw the light of day in 1926, had been running until last year without ever giving trouble. Selby took it over to Molsheim last autumn believing that such luck was too good to last, and was rewarded by a no-trouble run at over 78 m.p.h. over. the 230 miles of the International Trophy. Later on in the month he went up to Southport where frequently he has driven the car, and secured first place in the 50 miles Race.
The two-litre driven by Esson-Scott belonged to the late Count Czaikowski, but the blower has since been removed. Esson-Scott finished 12th at an average speed of 81.77 m.p.h.
Sharpening the Rapier. I am not surprised to learn that Lord de Clifford, who has always been a great Lagonda enthusiast, is preparing some Lagonda Rapiers for competition. He
has gone into partnership with Mr. C. J. Dobson, the well-known Staines motor-agent, and they are marketing cars with special short throw crank-shafts which bring them within the 1,100 c.c. limit. De Clifford has entered a car in the Le Mans 24 Hours’ Race, and hopes to have a team of three for Ulster. Charles Brackenbury will probably be driving with him at Le Mans. Three models will be produced, the less expensive ones being intended for trials work and ordinary fast touring.
When a Handicap Race is Better.
I was a little disappointed with the second Donington Meeting. The 5 lap races were on the whole rather dull, one driver always being a good deal faster than the rest of the field, who were strung out in a procession. Then the same cars raced over and over again, and the quality of the entry could have been a good deal better. Although I am against handicap-racing on principle, I must confess that the 25 mile handicap race was easily the best of the day. To begin with there were 19 starters. Then everyone seemed to have much more “
hell-for-leather” spirit, and finally there were some far faster cars entered. But I am afraid the fact that it was a handicap affair is not the real cause for the success of this race. The
reason could be found on page 9 of the programme. For the 5 lap races the 1st prize was £5, and for the 25 mile event £20. Can you blame the drivers for not entering in the former ?
Stock Car Events.
Sports car races have been rather obscured during the last two years by the many magnificent Grand Prix events which have been run. The idea of a 4,000 miles race does seem to have focussed fresh interest on this aspect of the sport. The organisers of the Tour of Italy, which is the new name of the Coppa d’Oro del Duce, have certainly tried their best to attract foreign support, with free oil and petrol, special accommodation for English drivers, and facilities for getting spares and team lorries through the Customs on triptique. Only five British entries have been received, namely Aldington on a Frazer-Nash, Bezzant and Fay Taylour on an Aston Martin, Minshall on a Singer Nine, Harrop’s M.G. and Jack Hobbs on a Riley.
Unfortunately the interpretation of the regulations designed to keep out non-standard sports cars is a little hazy. 100 cars of a certain type must have been sold before a car is eligible to enter. Bertelli is taking no chances and has entered an Aston made two years ago. Aldington, on the other hand did not see the sense of entering a car inferior to the present productions on the market and asked the Italian authorities whether he may run a car with the latest overhead camshaft Frazer-Nash engine, on the strength of having bought the material for a hundred such engines. The only reply received at first was a telegram repeating the more obscure part of the regulations. Latest news is that the entry was refused.
The same regulation applies to the Alpine Trial, and Aldington who is a most energetic person, has requested the R.A.C. to bring forward the alternate suggestion, that the qualifying number shall be proportional to the output of the factory. The Club profess themselves unable to do anything about it this year, so Aldington is pinning his hope on the S.M.M.T., who put up a proportion of the money spent in organising the Trial, and who consequently have quite a strong say in the matter.
The Belgian 10 Hour Race, which seemed particularly suited to English sports cars does not seem to have obtained any support from this country, but that hardy annual Le Mans, which continues from year to year without much alteration, has attracted a number of English cars and drivers.
And at Home.
The inevitable storm about excluding supercharged cars from the Ulster T.T. Race is still raging, but there are prospects of an excellent race.
The handicap has been slightly revised, as will be seen, to prevent undue hardship when capacities of standard sports cars do not follow the International Class limits. The class awards remain unaltered. The speeds are :—
The subdivision in Class G should tempt some Singer owners to do battle with the more highly-developed Rileys, and Class D may once more attract some ” 90 ” Talbots. The two-litre class, as the financial papers say, remains dull.
Regulations regarding external alterations and” bonafide commercial models” will this year be interpreted in the strictest sense, and cars which are drilled full of holes where the standard ones have solid metal will find themselves excluded.
Further Chops and Changes.
Meanwhile Esson-Scott’s former two-litre has found a new home. It has been acquired by Houldsworth, a Bugatti enthusiast who runs a large and well-equipped sports car tuning. place in Cambridge. He invited me to try the brakes of my car on his beautiful new testing machine the last time I was up there, but knowing their stopping-power all too well, I declined with thanks. It was a had week-end, that, for not only were my brakes not good, but the shock-absorbers suddenly ceased to function at the same time.
Cornering without shock-absorbers is actually quite an interesting pastime, and you learn a great deal about the effect of easing the throttle to bring the tail round.
Most people know the official Austin Seven team with their tiny light-green streamlined bodies, but they would have failed to recognise the special car built for road-racing which Driscoll was to have driven in the last International Trophy. The engine is the one specially tuned by Murray Jamieson and which was fitted to the car which took some 750 cc. records in April. A skeleton body hardly concealed the narrow chassis with its off-set transmission and the front axle was a straight tube, a little reminiscent of a G.N., but with the usual Austin transverse spring beneath it. It put up a fine performance in the hands of Driscoll in the Whitsun Meeting at Brooklands.
One Man’s Meat.
It is extraordinary how opinions vary about the roadholding and performance of any given car. The other day I was discussing with a rather disgruntled owner
the cornering of his Rumblebus. “Corners like a tram, nothing outstanding the way of performance, and a lot of upkeep required. What I really like are those little 575 cc. Eggwhisks. Dead-smooth at 70 and perfectly stable on wet roads.” Next day the former owner of a Rumblebus, “Wish I could afford to buy another one. At present I’m running an Eggwhisk for hack-work but it only does 64, and when you turn the steering wheel suddenly it just leaves the road.”
Every car seems to have its peculiarity of handling. Talking about the 6f-litre Bentleys one day with ” W.O.,” their famous designer, I learnt that on Brooklands at any rate these vehicles resented having their steering wheels held tightly, though if allowed to have their own way they took you round almost without effort. In the same way heavy-handed drivers take a little time to get used to the light steering which is an Alfa-Romeo characteristic.
Talking of Alfas, Street and Duller have secured four very attractive 1,750 cc. cars from the factory, all fitted with the usual snappy two-seater bodies. They are all capable of reaching the hundred mark on normal alcohol-blend or ethylised fuels, which makes one question the R.A.C. ban on blowers in the forthcoming T.T. The only difference between the earlier models and the 1932 series, of which they have secured two examples, is that the former had smaller superchargers geared up to give the required boost.
Why Monza ?
amount of been at times by owners of 2.3 Grand Prix Alfas who called their cars “Monza Alfas.” No such type exists in the catalogue, but Duller gave me what seems the first reasonable explanation. An improved type of 2.3 engine developed at the beginning of 1932 was fitted to the G.P. and sports cars chassis the next year, so the name ” Monza ” is applicable to the engines of all the 2.3 cars built in 1933. Before that the only cars with Monza engines were the works team built just before the Monopostos came upon the scene. Usual disclaimer, I fancy.
The Sporting Spirit.
Considering the few opportunities there are in England for the owner of a fast car, the absence of starting money and the smallness of the prizes offered, it says a good deal for the keenness of racing men over here that they continue to drive their cars. The announcement of the new E.R.A. racing cars, which is given on another page, materially strengthens the position. Next month we hope to give details of another private venture of the same type, while ” a famous ex-racing motorist” a term which nowadays includes practically everyone who has watched a Brooklands meeting, is said to be similarly
occupied somewhere in the Home Counties. More power to his elbow !
Amongst the Palms.
The English drivers in the Tripoli Grand Prix had an interesting time but were dogged by ill-luck. Eyston was 5th in his second lap at the formidable speed of 115 mp.h. The next lap he broke a piston, but the car was still drivable, and he finished 9th just within the time-limit. Hamilton was running third on his Maserati when his carburetter jet stuck, a thing which happened to the late Sir Henry Birkin in a French Grand Prix
some years ago, and he dropped back to fifth place. Straight fell out early in the race with some obscure form of engine trouble.
After Tripoli Straight’s Maseratis were loaded on to the equipe lorries and were sent off to Morocco, but a broken front hub on one of the lorries, when passing through Algiers,. nearly led to the wrecking of the vehicle and its load. The car finally reached Casablanca by train.
Straight will not be back in England in time for the Mannin Races, as he and Hamilton are competing in the Grand Prix de Suisse, held on the outskirts of Montreux. Featherstonhaugh will drive the 2.5 Maserati in the Isle of Man, and Straight will return to England in time for the Shelsley Walsh.
Real Mountain Racing.
The Eyston—Penn Hughes 2.6 Alfa is being repaired in Paris, and while the” Recordman Anglais ” continues to pile up new records at Montlhery, Penn is setting forth for the Eifel Race, on the famous German course near Adenan. The 37 miles circuit, which winds up and down mountains, and abounds in right-angle corners concealed by hump-back gradients, requires a good deal of knowing, and the English driver will put in an intensive four days learning all he can. The Ferrari Alfas are sending representatives, and also Auto Union, but I understand that the Mercedes cars are not yet quite “au point.”
Arthur Fox is particularly well-versed in preparing cars for competition, and I was interested to see work proceeding on his three 1,500 c.c. Singers. The cars will be standard jobs except for having the 4 ft. 4 ins, front axle instead of the narrow track one which is more popular for trials work ; and I admired the balanced crank-shafts and the new heads with inlet and exhaust ports on opposite sides.
The bodies are two-seaters, just wide enough to comply with the sports car regulations, and only weigh 60 lbs. each. Such light construction can only be accomplished by the careful assembly of each part, and consequently these streamlined two-seater bodies cost fully three times as much as the standardised “Le Mans” coachwork.
Brian Lewis is driving one of these cars in the Isle of Man, and also at Le Mans, with Hindmarsh as his fellow driver.