Rumblings, June 1956
Los Angeles Race Centre
A new multi-million dollar motor-racing centre, to be called the Los Angeles International Motor Raceway, will be built 32 miles east of downtown Los Angeles commencing immediately, it was announced recently by United States Automotive Testing, Inc., sponsors of the unique project. The centre has been designed to be the finest and most modern motor-racing and test facility of its type in the world. It will be located on a 470-acre site and will be easily accessible via U.S. Highways 60 and 70-99. Kermit Pollack, President of the U.S. Automotive Testing, Inc., revealed that an initial investment of $3,000,000 will be utilised in building the facility which will bring long-awaited big-time international motor racing to the United States. It is the aim of U.S. Antomotive Testing to develop the Los Angeles International Motor Raceway into a world centre of competition motoring, Pollack said. The benefits this project will bring to the United States generally and Southern California in particular are almost limitless he stated.
Aside from the important contributions to the motoring industry which are possible, such as improvements in car safety and the further development of mechanical perfection, the raceway will become a major community attraction and a national recreation area according to Pollack.
A long range programme, commencing with the opening of the raceway in mid-summer, 1956, and extending over a four-year period, will see a total of $12 million invested in the project which will incorporate facilities unparalleled in the history of motor racing.
Some of the outstanding features of this course, scheduled to be completed over the four-year period, will be grandstands permitting a view of 65 per cent. to 90 per cent. of the course at all times, 100 per cent. asphalt-paved racing and test circuits, permanent shop and garage facilities, newly-developed electronic control systems, parking for 22,000 cars, complete dust control in all spectator and parking areas, landscaping, complete press facilities, restaurants and recreational areas. Mr. Pollack stated that the decision to place the raceway in Southern California came after a careful study of various areas of the country during the past three years. This portion of the United States, because of its unequalled climate, has become a mecca for automobile racing and sports cars and includes the country’s greatest concentration of fans, drivers and automobiles.
The particular site was chosen because of rapid freeway accessibility and the fact that it is surrounded by growing population centres. A railroad spur, important for the shipping of cars, adjoins the circuit and a nearby air terminal will make it easily possible for spectators and racing personnel from any part of the world to fly to the course.
Spectator and driver safety have been held uppermost throughout the planning and design of the raceway and a large number of revolutionary electronic and mechanical safety devices – most of which have never before been used in racing – will be put into operation on the course, Pollack stated.
The raceway, designed by Quinton Engineers, Ltd., of Los Angeles, is the product of six years of intensive research and first hand study. Not only will it embody all the most desirable features of the world’s greatest courses, but it will incorporate ideas that internationally-famed drivers, who have driven these circuits, want to see put into effect, Pollack said. Such outstanding racing figures as Stirling Moss, Carroll Shelby, Lance Macklin, Pierro Taruffi and Umberto Maglioli, among others, are said to have been consulted and their expressions about an ideal racing circuit were carefully noted. It was pointed out that the raceway is not one circuit but a carefully worked out combination of six distinct and complete facilities, each fulfilling a different racing function.
Acting in an advisory capacity to U.S. Automotive Testing in the design and formation of the unique multi-course raceway are Al Torres, Jeff Cooper and Rudy Cleye, noted racing figures.
There will be two true road circuits, one five and a half miles long and the other four and a half. Current plans are to utilise the two high-speed road courses for International Championship Grand Prix Racing long absent from this country, and International Championship Sports-Car Racing.
National Amateur Sports-Car Races, which contribute to point standings in the United States, are planned for the same two circuits, and a National Open Sports-Car Race, combining professional drivers and the outstanding amateur pilots, is also contemplated. Further, Championship Stock-Car Road Races will he held with the major event falling prior to the Mexican Road Race, thus giving drivers and crews an opportunity for a full-scale road test of their entries. Additionally, the road circuits will be made available for a motor-cycle Grand Prix.
Completing the layout will be two oval tracks, half a mile and one mile in length, in which stock cars, midgets, sprint cars and Indianapolis-type machines will be raced, a drag strip to be used for quarter-mile acceleration trials and a three-mile road skirting the perimeter of the site for speed-endurance testing by auto manufacturers. A driver training school, open to the experienced and novice alike, will be conducted by qualified, highly-skilled personnel in order that America may develop race drivers who can uphold this country’s prestige in the international sport. Europeans have gathered the victory laurels in past years, largely because a suitable training ground was unavailable for the budding race driver, stated Pollack.
In conjunction with the school, practice facilities will be kept available so that drivers may maintain competitive racing standards at all times. The primary purpose of the Los Angeles International Motor Raceway will be to present a balanced programme of competitive motoring events designed to interest the entire family as well as the avid enthusiasts.
Briefly, the aims of the sponsors are expressed as follows :—
Grandstands. – Spectators will be able to view race events from a cleverly designed, long, low grandstand which will make up to 90 per cent. of the course visible, depending on the seat in the stands.
Course Overpasses. – Overpasses for pedestrians and vehicles will make the infield areas easily accessible at all times.
Parking and Traffic Control. – Parking will be provided for 22,000 cars and special engineering work is being done by Margaret Savage, one of the nation’s traffic engineers, to facilitate spectator cars entering and leaving the raceway area.
Dust Control. – All parking and spectator areas will be surfaced with rolled asphalt for complete dust control, often a problem at large outdoor events.
Closed-Circuit Television. – A system of closed-circuit television will ultimately be installed for the convenience of spectators at various points around the course.
Announcing System. – A system or five announcers at strategic points on the circuit will keep spectators informed of the overall racing picture.
Scoring. – A large electronic tote board, visible from the grandstand and pit areas is planned to flash complete lap by lap information on the progress of the races.
Restaurants. – Several ultra-modern restaurants and a clubhouse will be installed within a four-year period, and will be available in the grandstand area.
Fencing. – All protective fencing will be a maximum of four feet in height to allow spectators an unobstructed view of the course.
Recreational Areas. – Current plans call for several completely landscaped areas that will serve as picnic, rest, and playground facilities for young and old alike.
The Los Angeles International Motor Raceway will make full use of the very latest developments in the field of electronics for the control of races. Many of the devices scheduled to appear over a four-year period are currently being developed expressly for the raceway and represent totally new concepts in the field of competitive motoring.
Timing Devices. – Accurate liming devices will record all elapsed times, average. speeds and maximum speeds for all events.
Tabulation and Scorekeeping. – Keeping accurate lap charts has long been a problem in motor racing. Electronic calculators are planned which will record car positions, lap by lap, and eliminate controversy. A further development on this will be construction of a complex, multi-faced tote board, something never before seen in this country. Spectators will know at a glance lap positions or all cars, speeds, positions of cars in class and cars which have dropped out for any reason.
Accurate Race Starting. – Assurance that a standing start will be fair and accurate will be provided for by a system of trip wires in front of each car’s starting grill. An overhead light will flash off the seconds remaining until the start and if any car crosses his trip wire before the starting light turns green, his number will flash in the control booth and he will be disqualified.
Course signals. – A system of coloured signal lights around the circuit will inform the drivers as to a clear road, danger, oil on the course, stop at once, etc. Individual cars will be signalled off the course with an overhead light at the start-finish line carrying the vehicle’s number.
Closed-Circuit. T.V. – A system of closed-circuit television cameras is being devised to be located at strategic areas around the circuit . These will feed to monitor screens in the master control tower so that race officials will ahve an all-important close-up look at the course and be able to follow the action at all times. Arrangements will be made so that the circuit may be connected with standard broadcast T.V. for telecasting important events. Current plans are to make spectator T.V. screens available at various points on the circuit.
Announcing System. – A unique system of loudspeakers will be installed to keep spectators informed of overall race progress plus happenings in their own particular course area. It is planned to have five announcers posted at critical areas who will keep spectators abreast of what they are seeing in their own area. Further, a master control system will enable a director to connect any announcer into the full system for important developments and periodically issue information from the start-finish line.
For the convenience of the press, complete facilities for newspaper, magazine, radio, T.V. and newsreel personnel will be installed at the Los Angeles International Motor Raceway.
Two press decks will be constructed as integral parts of the master control pagoda at the start-finish line.
The lower deck, giving full visibility of the entire circuit, will have accommodation and work areas for reporters and writers, and a second deck above will be for the convenience of newsreel television and still photographers.
It is planned to construct a series of camera towers at strategic points around the track so that all events may be fully covered photographically.
Further, transportation will be provided for press members to move freely around the circuit before and between races.
Grandstand seats for families and guests of the press will also be provided.
Providing drivers, their mechanics and crews with safe, comfortable racing facilities is an all-important task and, with this in mind, the designers of the Los Angeles International Motor Raceway have planned the finest and most modern racing plant in the world today to accommodate racing personnel.
Pits. – Modern racing pits, separated from the main straightway by a low concrete barrier for safety, will be provided with ample work area and provisions for rapid refuelling.
Shops and Garages. – Permanent shops and garages are scheduled to be constructed. These will incorporate parts and accessory sales, power equipment and complete shop facilities.
Electronic Race Control. – Fair race starts will be assured through a system of electric trip wires on each starting grid and during the race drivers will be signalled through a system of coloured lights on the course which will give them important instructions from the master control centre.
Paddock and Permanent Storage Area. – A completely paved paddock area will be provided to accommodate one thousand cars, while enclosed storage facilities will be made available for drivers and factory teams who may wish to leave their cars at the course for a period of time thus allowing drivers additional practice time without transporting problems.
Utopia, we guess!
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A New Aston Martin
An interesting product from the Automobile Division of David Brown Industries, Limited, is a new Aston Martin DB3S fixed-head coupe.
The Aluminium body, built and designed by David Brown, is an example of aerodynamic simplicity. Mr. Brown influenced the styling of the prototype model, and this is by no means the first time that his knowledge of “design” has been felt, for when he produced the first all-British tractor (he now has the third largest production in the U.K.) the style was taken from his own original design.
This new two-seater is built on the same chassis as the Aston Martin DB3S competition car and has the same engine, the six-cylinder 2.0-litre unit giving 210 b.h.p. Features of the car include four-speed David Brown gearbox with a central gear lever, Girling hydraulic brakes, three dual-choke Weber carburetters, and a single-plate clutch, all of which are similar to the production competition car.
The suspension is by trailing links on all four wheels. The front wheels are independently sprung by torsion bars located in a transverse chassis tube, while the rear suspension is also on torsion bars. The rear axle is of the de Dion type. These features, coupled with an exceptionally stiff tubular chassis, give a degree of roadholding, and therefore safety, that is generally agreed to be the finest in the world. Silencing is claimed to be efficient without loss of power at any engine speed and has been effected by the use of twin exhaust pipes to a silencer fitted transversely across the rear of the car.
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Ten Years On
Sunday, May 6th marked the tenth anniversary of the announcement of a Ten-Year Programme of Highway Development by Mr. Alfred Barnes, then Minister of Transport to the Labour Government.
Commenting on the anniversary the British Road Federation’s Monthly Bulletin said :—
“Mr. Barnes presented to Parliament the outline of a plan which had it been carried out would by now have provided this country with the most modern, safe and efficient road system in the world.
“So much for the plan. The actual situation today is that not only have none of the intentions been fulfilled in the last ten years but road conditions have become so bad that additional restrictive measures are being sought in an attempt to make the greatly increased traffic of 1956 fit roads which were inadequate in 1939.
“Since 1946 there have been two further programmes, the latest of which was announced in February of last year. Its inadequacy may be measured by the fact that, even if carried out as announced, annual expenditure in terms of work done will not have reached beyond pre-war level in 1959.
“What is lacking is Government realisation that the country loses by putting up with its present roads. Through inflated transport costs and lost time hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted every year, many times the sum which would provide the roads we urgentIy need.
“Demands for transport are continually increasing and will go on doing so. All the facilities which can be provided will be required, both road and rail. Now is the time to speed up investment in them, not to hold it back.”