Rumblings, April 1962
Announcements of new examples of motor-car miniatures as they come on the market is a…
Once upon a time the RAC published an annual book of all the World and International Class records standing at the end of each year and it was possible to subscribe for periodical supplements giving details of fresh records as these were ratified by the FIA. As record-breaking became less frequent this useful service faded away, since when it has been difficult to assess the latest position.
Now one has to rely on the United States Auto Club Year Book, which lists all existing World and International Class records, as well as American National records, use results of American Championship races, Indianapolis included, points scored in the year’s Championship races, hill-climb results, etc., which means that this 1961 Year Book is a very informative publication. It is interesting to find that 85 pre-war World records remain unbeaten. These are mainly the Citroen long-distance records of 1933, but they include an isolated run by the Mormon Meteor at Bonneville,
Coming to International Class records, it is astonishing to discover that five Brooklands’ records remain—the Appleton-Riley’s ss, kilo and mile in Class G, Dodson’s Austin record for the ss, kilo in Class H, at 53.6 mph, and Gush’s fs, 10-kilo, and 10-mile records in Class J, at over 77 mph. There are, in fact, a suprisingly large number of pre-war Class records still standing, including Caracciola’s fs, kilo, and mile for Mercedes-Benz in Class D, at 247/248 mph, and his equivalent ss records, and Rosemeyer’s fs, 10-kilo record with an Auto-Union at 223.9 mph in Class B.
Fastest record of all is still the late John Cobb’s 394.2 mph for the World’s flying mile, in the British Railton Mobil Special.
On this fascinating subject of records, we like very much the suggestion made by Barry Clarke to the 750 MC that the Class H 7-day record, which has never been established, should be attempted with a pre-war Austin Seven saloon. MontIhery would presumably be the venue. Clarke suggests a slightly modified engine and a 4.9-to-1 axle ratio. We hope something will come of this, for it would be a sound sporting effort, on a par with the Bentley DC’s mass-onslaught on National sprint records at Jabbeke last month. Incidentally, the aforesaid Year Book shows no records in this Class beyond 3 days, which would make the 750 MC’s task easier. An interesting local record is that for the Comdr Philip Heseltine Trophy, which goes to the standard family saloon of under 1,500 cc, costing loss than £1,000 inclusive of pt, that travels furthest round Snetterton in 24 hours. In 1960 a team of Mann Egerton employees covered 550 laps (1,489 miles) with a Morris Mini-Minor. However, the run was not RAC-observed. More recently a DKW Junior driven in turn by T Atkinson, V Elford, R Enoch, E Johnson, CR Scanand, C Horsfall covered 514 laps in 22 hours before Elford hit a bank and damaged the cooling system. This figure is being-claimed as the present record, as it was RAC-observed. Any challengers? WB.
A Brooklands re-union
On the evening of April 28th, at the “Hand and Spear” in Weybridge, where Brooklands’ habituees used to gather before the war after racing at the Track, a happy assembly of those associated with motorcycle racing in the old days swapped yarns and awoke dormant memories, under the genial guidance of Rex Judd. Those present included Victor Horsman, who drove Triumph Super Seven cars as well as riding his famous Triumph motorcycles on Brooklands Track; Harold Daniell; Bert Denly, remembering only too vividly cars like the Hotchkiss, 8-litre Panhard and Eyston’s “Speed-of-the-Wind”; Noel Pope, looking like the artist he was with the fearsome blown Brough-Superior; Totey, who was riding New Imperials in the early ‘twenties; ace-enthusiast Jarman; Jock West; Johnny Lockett; tuning wizard Francis Heart; HH Beach of Norton fame, the oldest BMCRC rider present, for he raced at Brooklands before 1914 and is now in his eighties; Jack Williams; RRC Palmer; Fruin; Dicker, who remembers the Track being built in 1906/7 and who thereafter painted the racing numbers on the cars; Wood; Lunn; Joe Wright who tamed really quick vee-twin machines; Denly’s “pusher-off-er”; B Pickford who rode a big Pickford-JAP that was vintage even in the years just before the war; and many, many more too numerous to list. The Editor of Motor Sport went along, wearing the appropriate BARC lapel-badge to indicate that he saw his first race meeting at Brooklands 35 years ago, taking Dudley Gahagan with him. Glasses were raised, the undercurrent of conversation rose, photographs and albums were handed round, the names of absent ones recalled. . . .
This sixth Brooklands re-union was nostalgic, a little sad, unreal maybe, but infinitely worthwhile, with its talk of belt-drive, incandescent valves, “dope” fuels, the track-craft of the riders and the fun and games when work was over, the race won or lost—practical jokes in the BMCRC bar, Freddy Dixon naked in a Paris fountain-, and one morning after Montlhery and so on. . . . It must happen again!
The Motor Sport Readers’ Car Survey conducted by “MLT” has shown in no uncertain manner that the BMC minicars are screwed together much too casually and have given many owners a great deal of irritating trouble. However, to be fair, I must record that the Editorial Morris Mini-Minor, which completed 39,000 miles at the conclusion of a recent business journey, has settled down to be tolerably reliable, apart from such minor misdemeanors as breaking exhaust-pipe brackets and a dynamo bolt.
Its bouts of difficult starting became so demoralising that it was taken to the efficient Acton depot of Joseph Lucas Ltd, where the trouble was quickly traced to the battery, which had never been changed, as was thought, and which had therefore seen at least 2 years’ service. A new Lucas battery and a new set of Champion plugs not only cured any uncertainty about starting, even after the “minibric” had been idle in the open for over a week, but it restored fuel economy, which had deteriorated to 36, then to 33 mpg, but is now back to 46 mpg of Esso Extra on long fast runs and 43 mpg overall. This from an engine which has been serviced only at long intervals since it replaced the original at 17,000 miles and which, after a further 17,000, was giving in the region of 1,450 miles per pint of Castrol XL. Three Pirelli Extraflex tyres are still in use, after 9,400 miles. That on a front wheel has an even tread pattern but this has worn rather thin and adhesion is reduced on slippery surfaces. The tyres on the back wheels have about two-thirds as much tread left and look good for a great many more miles. The fourth tubeless Pirelli punctured after 5,147 miles and appeared to have been damaged, so as a precaution it was replaced with a Dunlop Gold Seal.
The little car still gives me much pleasure on short journeys and is an ideal traffic negotiator.—WB.
Marples’ vehicle tests under fire
The compulsory testing of cars of comparatively recent manufacture, for which Mr Marples is responsible, can give rise to ridiculous situations. It might be expected that a car owner, ignorant of technical matters, would be correct in assuming that if his car passes the test, conducted by an approved MoT testing station, and for which he pays, and has to pay once a year, he would be exonerated from blame if his car fails subsequently to satisfy a police check. Not a bit of it. It is always the motorist who pays … and goes on paying.
A case at Stony Stratford was reported last April in The Wolverton Express in which two brothers were each fined £15 for using a 1948 car in a dangerous condition. The brakes were only 20% efficient and pulled to one side, there was 5 to 6 in of play in the steering, steering connections and king-pins were badly worn, the speedometer didn’t work, one running-board and a wing had rusted through and the bonnet was held on by a strap through the radiator grille. The owners explained that the car had its 10-year certificate, issued by Flemings of Stony Stratford. Nothing was said about prosecuting the garage that issued it. Indeed, a police inspector said “It was issued by a garage in this town. I don’t think I should say more than that.”
Misdirected good intentions
A ganger, Henry Muscroft, Kew Crescent, Sheffield, and a foreman labourer, Neil Marcus Thornley, Sandymount Road, Wath-on-Dearne, were, according to the local Press, lined £3 each for waving down vehicles as they approached a police radar trap. Muscroft said he did it for a joke, Thornley because he “thought it a rotten trick to use a radar van like that.” Justice must run its course and apparently it is better for crime to be committed and apprehended than prevented. But we wouldn’t be surprised if the two men concerned received a present or two from grateful local motorists!
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