The Club Bore Defeated.
NE of the reasons why many people go on the Monte Carlo Rally is to get an experience of snowy conditions, and to tell their friends at home all about it, and it was a real disappointment to return to England and to have their best stories capped by being told : ” Oh, but we had quite a lot here.” However, drivers and crews made up for lost time at an informal dinner held last month at Gilson’s Club, and much of the discussion focussed naturally on what sort of car might be expected to win next year’s event.
Whalley, who was again fifth in this year’s results, has already planned a super-car, which is to have a supercharged Ford V8 engine, fitted into one of the old short chassis. Not content with the present transmission he intends to have a self-changing gearbox, and a special two-speed back axle as produced in America, giving him eight forward speeds and two reverses ! He has already made successful experiments with the Ford engine fitted with a Centric blower, and hopes to have the whole car together in time for the Shelsley meeting in May.
The Triumph Triumph.
I happened to be sitting next to J. C. Ridley, whose success in the light car class was something of a consolation for Donald Healey’s bad luck, and was interested to hear some of his experiences. In the first place, contrary to what one would expect, he found no advantage in a self-changing gearbox, as there was a tendency to stall the engine if one changed into reverse too early, and he gave this up in favour of an orthodox clashtype,” stripped of the reverse lock and anything which might impede a rapid change.
The supercharger was another last-minute brain-wave. The Triumph engine was particularly easy to adapt to the idea, and to connect it up, which he did outside the check at Lyons, he simply had to remove the carburetter, which is mounted on top of the engine, and to couple up the induction pipe from the blower. The latter was driven by an open chain from the front end of the crankshaft. It was lucky he did not leave the change-over till… later, for he and his fellow-driver were both practically dropping off to sleep all the way from Avignon.
Ex Africa . . .
The Morocco Rally promises to be a very different affair—a drive across France and Spain at everincreasing speed, culminating in a high-speed trial and hill-climb near Casablanca. It sounds a good event for owners of 4/-litre Lagondas and other large fast cars ; while Frazer-Nashes, Aston-Martins and blown M.G. Magnettes should stand an excellent chance in the i+-litre class. It’s a long way away, but the prize money is quite tempting.
Meanwhile, by the same post as those regulations, I received a letter from the same part of the world enclosing a cutting from a Moroccan paper giving details of the famous ” Flying Flea.” This is a single-seater aeroplane constructed by a Frenchman called Mignet, and which he claims can be built by any amateur in his back-yard, the total cost with engine not exceeding £70.
At this price all of us can afford to be air-minded, and in any case will probably incline that way in a few months, with the coming into force of the 30 m.p.h. speed limit. In the home counties, at least, life on the road will be rather depressing.
The B.R.D.C. Dine.
After-dinner speaking is usually a thing to be borne
rather than to be enjoyed, but surely the addresses delivered after the B.R.D.C. dinner must be classed as long-distance records ? However, the depression passed at last, and people were soon hard at work discussing next season’s mounts and races.
The two 3.3-litre Bugattis owned by Lord Howe and Noel Rees are, of course, the most favoured cars for next season, since they will be serviced at Molsheim, while those of Eccles and Martin will be tuned over here. The Howe-Rees combination plan a very full season, and the drivers expect to be on the Continent most of the time from June to September. The Isle of Man races are at the end of May, and both cars will probably run over there.
Shuttleworth’s Monoposto Alfa will, of course, be a car to be watched, while Whitney Straight is holding on to at least one of his Maseratis. Incidentally, the Duesenburg he drove at Brooklands last year would seem to have an excellent chance in the Empire Trophy, the rules of which are quite kind to large unsupercharged cars, putting them on an equality with 2.3 supercharged machines. Besides the official team of E.R.A.s, which consists of Mays, Rose-Richards and Staniland, Fairfield has bought an 1,100 c.c. car, and Seaman a 4-litre. There should be some effective opposition from the new singleseater M.G.s, and I hear that Hall and Everitt are getting single seater ” Q ” Midgets ; while George Eyston may also be leading a team of them. The Magic Magnette has found a new home, for it has been bought by the Belleview Garage, and will be raced in several races at Brooklands during the season. Kenneth Evans and Miss D. Evans will have singleseater Midgets, while Manby-Colegrave has teamed up with Dudley Froy and they will run the Magnette, the 5-litre Bugatti which Kaye Don drove, and the Q type two-seater Midget driven last season by Everitt.
De Ram again.
Froy is one of the latest converts to the de Ram shock-absorbers, arguing that if they can keep the wheels of the conventionally sprung 3.3 Bugattis on the ground at 180 or so, they will have an equally beneficial effect
on the suspension of the 5-litre. With the car as it was, it was never possible to give full throttle on Brooklands, but if Froy obtains the improvement he hopes for, he thinks it should be possible to better John Cobb’s lap record of 142 m.p.h.
Salduro, the Ideal Track.
Meanwhile Cobb is occupying himself in getting data about Salduro, the dried-up salt-lake in the western United States, on which Jenkins carried off a whole series of long-distance records last year on the Pierce Arrow. The lake is situated about 120 miles west of the Great Salt Lake of Utah, and is 15 miles from the nearest railway station, which has the homely name of Wendover.
During the winter months a certain amount of rain falls in those parts, and the surface is not dry enough to regain its sun-baked crispness until May or June. A little raking has to be carried out to remove loose patches, and after that the would-be record-breaker is rewarded with a perfectly level track 13 miles in circumference, round which he can circulate to his heart’s content. The State Highway Board mark with stakes and wire the inner margin of the circuit desired, no outside limit of course being needed, while the revised record-breaking rules allow of more than one tyre depot round the circuit.
Sixty Tyres !
The chief difficulty about record-breaking, granted that the car is capable of the necessary speed, is not therefore the destructive nature of the track, but the difficulty of organising assistance in a spot 15 miles from the nearest settlement. When Cobb and Charlie Dodson, who will be driving with him, set sail from England in June they will take with them sixty or seventy tyres, some hundreds of gallons of fuel in 50 gallon drums, and half a dozen mechanics. The car will go overland to Utah by train, the final 15 miles being done on a lorry. I was surprised to learn that the Napier Railton only weighs just over two tons, and has a petrol consumption of .6 m.p.g.
Cobb and his colleague propose to tackle all records from 1 to 24 hours, and then on to 48 if they and the car are not worn out by that time. Jenkins’ speeds are around 130 m.p.h., so if they are not raised again before Cobb gets there, the British car, with its all-out speed of 155 or so, should be capable of advancing them a good deal. Sustained high speed and the hot weather which may be expected at that time of year make an undertaking of this sort even on an almost straight track a task requiring considerable stamina. The Dunlop tyres, which are often an unknown factor, have been well tested on the abrasive surface of Montlhery and found satisfactory, so that is one anxiety less.
Millimetres of Mercury.
Talking of Montlhery, I see by the latest Bulletin issued by that famous resort of ” Recordmen ” that a meteorological station has been established on the Autodrome to provide information and forecasts of the atmospheric pressure, wind direction, humidity, and other matters of this sort. These factors have a surprising effect on a car’s performance, and I remember a
designer bewailing bitterly how misleading it was to compare all-out speeds put up on Brooklands unless these were recorded within a few minutes of one another. Apart from the question of wind, I have found myself that quite a number of cars seem to get” out of breath” and fail to reach their normal speeds on those scorching days one sometimes gets down there.
As far as atmospheric pressure is concerned, Tat, the well-known record-breaking venue in Hungary, is below sea level, and so is Murok, the salt lake track in California, and both should therefore have a slight supercharging effect ; while Montlhery, which is laid out on top of a plateau, should have the opposite effect. However, I think the modern blower is more than a match for atmospheric pressures such as these.
A Motor-racing Film.
German racing cars have been constantly in the news of late, and as I write this I learn of Stuck’s flying mile record set up in Italy, a challenge to which the MercedesBenz people are obviously going to reply. Meanwhile I learn from Mr. Seher. of Mercedes-Benz, that he has been producing, in conjunction with U.F.A., a sound-film of his firm’s racing activities during 1934, with the title “Victory for Germany,” and that it has just been released in Germany. I hope we get a chance of seeing it in England during the next few months, and it will be specially interesting to see whether the sound-engineers have managed to record successfully the wail from the ” Merc ” supercharger. In this case it will be indeed a “super-picture.”
Those Enclosed Racing Cars.
Caracciola’s fastest run at Gyon was made at an average speed of just 200 m.p.h., but one would expect the Auto-Union to be capable of a still better performance, in view of its long tapered tail, and no less so in view of the fact that it has a five-litre engine as against the fourlitre of the Mercedes. I understand from a reliable source that the car has actually reached in tests the speed of 212 m.p.h., when the engine is turning over at the formidable speed of 9,000 r.p.m.
There are persistent rumours that the Auto-Unions are steam-cooled, which may account for the complaints about hot cockpits made by some of the drivers. I hate to think how Stuck felt inside his closed machine.
Dearth of Drivers.
Without Hans Stuck, who of course is an Austrian, Auto-Union would have been in an awkward predicament last year, for Leiningen, Sebastian and the other native drivers were not up to the form of the better Italian and French pilots. Now that Varzi has joined the team we shall see for the first time a super-driver on the latest type of racing machine, and in most cases I should think the combination should prove unbeatable.
The Italian Reply.
Nuvolari, I understand, has been more or less compelled to re-enter the Ferrari team in order to maintain the prestige of Italy. Unfortunately the new AlfaRomeos, which will have pneumatic suspension and either a straight eight 4-litre or a V 12 4i-litre engine, will not be ready before May, so experiments are being carried out to modify the ordinary 3-litre Monopostos,
as raced last year, by fitting independent rear wheel suspension. As will be seen in the accompanying photograph, the system used is similar to that used on the Auto-Union P. Wagen, with a fixed differential casing, swinging half-axles, forward radius rods, and suspension by a leaf spring placed under the axle.
The new Maseratis will have another system of suspension, introduced by Dr. Porsche, the torsion rod system, so evidently his skill is appreciated outside his own country.
Rather too Independent.
While independent suspension is the ideal system for racing cars, on which full adhesion of the back wheels is one of the most important considerations, it is not without pitfalls when applied to touring cars. In the first place, when a car of this type goes over a hump-back
bridge at speed, the weight is thrown on to the front springs, and if these are soft and undamped the nose drops abruptly and the back passengers shoot straight into the air, with a good chance of braining themselves if the car is a closed one.
One of the advantages of the conventional system is that the springs act like radius rods, holding the front axle tolerably rigidly against the reaction of powerful front brakes, which sometimes prove embarrassing with a lightly damped system of links and helical springs. It is interesting to note that radius rods are used to take the brake reaction on the latest Packards, while several American designers have reverted to the conventional system after trying “knee-action,” or whatever the phrase is, for a short time. However, in progressive countries like Germany swinging axles are more than a passing fashion, and it will undoubtedly prove possible to eradicate these faults.
” Aldie ” Demonstrates.
Certainly they are not present on the B.M.W., that interesting small car of German design which the FrazerNash people are to produce. I had my first run in a
right-hand drive one the other day, when Mr. H. J. Aldington, the genial managing director, again showed me how the cars defy centrifugal force on corners, without rolling and with soft springs. The 1i-litre will be followed in a short time by a 2-litre which utilises the same chassis, and this with a close-ratio gearbox should be a really stirring motor-car.
The Frazer-Nash concern are to have a showroom in the West End of London, at 32, Grosvenor Street, and amongst other interesting items to be seen there will be the B.M.W. record-breaking motor-cycle. Apart from motor-cycles, B.M.W. also manufacture aeroplane engines and complete machines, and when “Aldie” wants to visit the factory at Eisenach, near Munich, he just rings up and asks for a plane to be sent to England to fetch him!
Freddy Dixon always seems to be in the wars, but so far has had equally spectacular escapes, and I am glad to hear that he is recovering well after his aeroplane crash at Middlesbrough, though he will be confined to hospital for a month or two yet. No definite dates can be given, as Fred has a special knack of recovering more quickly than anyone would think possible. Up to the time of the crash some useful work had been put into the Silver Bullet, and Dixon had hoped to get it ready to run at Salduro in June, making the trip at the same time as John Cobb. Amongst other things, he had
given up his original idea of multiple carburetters, as he found that 24 would not go under the bonnet, so forced induction had been decided on. Work will presumably be at a standstill until the great little man can get down to designing once again.
Knobblies or Not.
The success of the Jack and Jill Trial, in which competition tyres were banned, again brings up the question of whether this would not also be an advantage for some of our ” Classic Events” ? It is becoming increasingly difficult to find gradients capable of stopping the modern car, particularly within a reasonable distance of London ; whereas, if they were not permitted, some of the more accessible and less damaging climbs of the Chilterns and the North and South Downs would again become fit obstacles for a stiff trial.
Such a proposal would, I am sure be followed by a terrific outcry by the owners of large cars, who claim that their type of vehicle cannot be expected to climb stiff gradients without such aid. Why small cars can get a grip with tyres of a similar tread to those employed on the big ones always seems something of a mystery, and the only thing I can think of is that the cross-section of the tyres on the big cars is insufficient to get the necessary adhesion. It would be interesting to test a large heavy car such as an old 4f-litre Bentley fitted with wide-section low-pressure Dunlops, such as are used on the E.R.A.s.