Letters, June 1992

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Tyred and weary

Sir,

I should be grateful if you would kindly settle an argument between a colleague and myself. This involves the width of racing car tyres. He claims that the reason they are so wide is to enhance grip and traction. My claim is that these things are a product of the load and the co-efficient of friction of the tyre and the road surface and nothing to do with the width of the tyre. If this is so, then why use such wide tyres?

My guess is that this is purely a question of economics, ie the wider the tyre the longer it will last, as simple as that.

True or false?

RJ Cassar,
Middlesex.

In dry conditions, the wider a tyre, the more grip it offers. A car’s suspension geometry is tuned to ensure that as much of the tyre’s ‘footprint’ is in contact with the track for as much of the time as possible, thus providing optimum grip. A tyre’s width has little to do with its longevity, although it can influence the temperature at which the tyre runs, and thus spread the load more evenly across the surface.

Lyon’s share

Sir,

I refer to Boddy Language (Motor Sport, April 1992) and also an article in March 1987 where I was criticised by Bill Boddy for having “hysteria associated with speed” to advise drivers to carry out a simple fluids and pressure check before driving on the motorway. As a racing driver, I most certainly have no hysteria. Quite the contrary.

I have to point out to WB the need for scrutineering in motorsport and ‘pre-flight’ checks in aircraft and motor car servicing. My objective in driving at an average speed of 153 mph with a Lamborghini Diablo on a derestricted autobahn in Germany was to prove that it is possible to drive the fastest production motor car currently available both quickly and safely, but not before checking it over, surely? The proper use of speed is infinitely variable and depends upon the vision and grip to stop if necessary. There was no element of danger or inconsideration to anyone. The maximum speed of over 200 mph was attained on four occasions, almost incidental to our objective to make the point that no speed limit is necessary to any driver with a sense of speed and discipline.

Del Hopkins of Lamborghini checked the Diablo fastidiously and adjusted the ride height, wheel cambers, tyres and steering, checking that is essential for safety, in my view. The Diablo was perfect, with amazing steering accuracy and stability a memorable drive.

I am mildly surprised that I have to remind WB thatMotor Sport (1924) is a contemporary to Autocar (1895).

I also consider that his apparent prejudice against ‘Hendon training’ is misplaced. After all, it was two famous racing drivers, the Earl of Cottenham and Sir Malcolm Campbell who, in 1936, selected and trained the staff at Hendon. One of the staff, Mr OV Thomas BEM, was my own instructor.

“Experience teaches” is the Hendon motto. They also impose discipline if required. Unpopular I know, but any great driver knows it is required, along with skill. It is only those who think they can drive without who have accidents at far less speed than I attained that day in Germany.

John Lyon,
Caterham Hill.

Brooklands Festivities

Sir,

With reference to the V-C Miscellany article in your April edition of Motor Sport, Brooklands Museum is indeed celebrating the 85th Birthday of Brooklands with an ambitious programme of over 30 events including the Birthday Party on June 17 (by prior booking) in the presence of Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of Brooklands Museum.

We also look forward to The Brooklands Society’s reunion on June 28 and the Brooklands to Le Mans Retrospectif on September 17-20 during which 85 Brooklands and Le Mans-related marques will drive from Brooklands to Le Mans, where a twinning ceremony between the two museums will take place. A full programme of events for the celebratory year is available from the museum. It includes visits from the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, VSCC Frazer Nash Section, Bentley Drivers Club and others.

Since Brooklands Museum is a charitable trust, and it is not in receipt of any grants, running costs of £300,000 per year (for the 30 acre site and some 25 buildings and features) as well as funding for capital projects such as the restoration of the motoring sheds must be raised by the Trust through gate money, catering, the Brooklands Club and individual and corporate sponsorship.

The Brooklands Club under the patronage of Prince Michael of Kent and the Presidency of Lord King of Wartnaby is open to corporate and individual members. Details of membership are available from the museum.

Brooklands Museum is grateful for the support it has received from its many corporate and individual sponsors including Courage, Shell, British Aerospace, British Airways, MoDo, Booker, Bentley Drivers Club, Ron Gerard and not least, Gallaher, although we would like to point out that this company’s contribution to the museum project between 1984-1991 was not a £1.5 million donation, as suggested in your article, but by way of contribution in works and services enabling the clubhouse and museum site to be opened to the public in April 1991.

The restoration of the clubhouse will be completed this summer with the opening of the Avery weighbridge and ‘Day at the Races’ displays and our next project for which we are seeking major sponsorship is the refurbishment of the Campbell Sheds, ERA Shed and motoring lock-ups, in which we will tell the story of motor racing at Brooklands from 1907. Many cars, motorcycles and exhibits have already been offered to the museum for display in these buildings but should your readers wish to contribute in cash or kind to this project, in celebration of the 85th Birthday Year, we would be most grateful.

Morag E Barton,
Director,
Brooklands Museum Trust.

Auto Reunion

Brooklands driver Clive Windsor Richards writes that the Brooklands Society is a rival of the Brooklands Museum. In fact the situation is that the Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd holds the lease on 30 acres of Brooklands and is charged with the task of developing a financially viable museum. It is true that this Society, a company limited by guarantee, led the preservation of Brooklands with considerable success without which the formation of a Trust and the re-opening of the site to the public might never have occurred.

Brooklands Motor Course is fundamental to all that happened at Brooklands and elsewhere around the world as its influence was enormous and copied in America and Europe. Today much of it remains, together with Britain’s first purpose-built road circuit designed by Sir Malcolm Campbell, world land speed record and water speed record holder on no less than 13 occasions.

The Society has, of course, a vested interest in the success of a project it did so much to start, but its future is in the hands of the Trust to which those who wish to make points should address them.

The Society’s annual Reunion at Brooklands on June 28 will mark the 85th anniversary of the opening of the track and the 25th birthday of the Society. It will include ascents of the Test Hill and a sprint the only one to be held within this historic site. Owners of pre-war cars and motorcycles, especially those with Brooklands connections, are urged to support the event, details of which may be obtained from the Society at 38 Windmill Way, Reigate, Surrey RH2 OJA (0737 241858).

KR Day,
Vice President The Brooklands Society,
Weybridge,
Surrey.

The Society’s reunion is well worth supporting, especially as we hear that the Museum’s party on June 17, to celebrate the 85th anniversary, is to be an evening affair for VIP guests (see Morag Barton’s letter), with fund-raising the objective – WB.