On Some Post WarProphecies
NATV-RALLY, everyone who is hastening victory, in the air, on or under the water, in the army, in the factory or in one of the numerous backrooms, wants to knowwhat the peace will be like. Recently three experts have tried to tell us: that in respect of motorracing. Journalist B. Ii. Davies and late sports-car-magnate Cecil KiMber, in the A 1440Car, and racing ace Raymond Mays in the Morris Owner, have daringly looked at our future, I am not nearly . courageous enough to follow suit, but the irnportanee of the subject suggests that We should ponder on these publiclyexpressed views and opinions, For those who were not fortunate enough to commit these articles to memory, let us analyse the general trend.
Davies divided motor-racing into five broad e.itegories, vii., world’s records (Utah), Track events (Brooklands, MOTIZa, Montlher?, , India na polis, A VHS, etc.), International Grands 1-‘rix on road circuits, long-distance sports-car races and local ” shorts ” or ” briefs.” in passing, I would suggest that Brooklands and Indianapolis were the Only venues where true ” outer-circuit ” style racing was held in the immedlide pre-strife period, Avus having its two bends linking the straights, which appreeiably slowed modern cars, Monza usually having chicanery to purposely reduce for a space the fiendish speed of modern road-racing ears. and Montlhery Track itself, as distinct front its road circuit, being confined. to record runs and testing for a number of years past. Also, I cannot understand why Davies lists Douglas and Monte Carlo with the ” shorts,” for the former venue gave us the International bight Car race and the Monaco G.P. is a classic of a duration more than sufficient for most of the participants. However, let us not quibble over minor concerns. Crystal-gazing under his five headings, I tavies dismisses world’s records as of very limited appeal ; he is clearly thinking of ” Land Speed Record ” attacks, and not of longer distance runs. Because Braoklands can accommodate large fields of obsolete ears and make an enormous appeal to the younger people in search of a good :time, Davies expects it to attract, large fields and enjoy vast popularity—certainly one devoutly hopes that the home of motor-racing in this country will thus revive and not, itself, remain just a big field. Quite why old ears and young irresponsibles should I ;e expected to congregate at Weybridge, with its 2,3 lis. entry fees and t6 6s. club subscription instead of at the less exacting (oh club days) venues of Leicester or London, is a little difficult to see. In pessimistic vein Davies foresees the first two post-war seasons given over 1 o elderly and obsolescent ea T’S, and think,, these things, handled by treeti ” drivers, likely to be safer let loose over I toil i ligton ‘ s broad and pleasant roads than at the Crystal Palace., Grand Prix racing. Davies thinks, cannot resume for many years, fait he hopes one ‘day -to see Britain, America, Germany, Italy, Russia. France, Canada, Australia. India and S. Africa,
perhaps supplemented by Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria, do battle in ” a fresh International G.P. race.” Presumably he implies but one race per season, and I cannot think where it would he held so as to be acceptable to all participants except that it isn’t likely to be in Hyde Park. They will probably be too busy planning the next war, anyway. Ile thinks a possible formula would be engines of not more than 1,000 c.c., or a weight limit instead, but gives no reasons for these rather vague su ppos i tion sft y Way, that was before Joe Lowrey’s brilliant air-rationing suggestion (“Boy, fit two 40-Mm. baffles to the twin S.U.s Of my sports car and advertise it as converted for G.P. racing ”). Turning to sports-car racing, of Le Mans type, Davies paints a rosy future, hoping that within a year of the armistice such races will be happening, if not supported by the Trade, at all events supported by amateurs. ‘• shaniateurs ” and wealthy sportsmen—actually, if 24hour races are intended, all three categories will need to be excessively wealthy, as I am sure Peter Clark, for one, will enntirm. The author fogs the issue by concluding : ” We shall see ‘ specials ‘ galore—all the more of t hem if the trade element waVers.”. I rather hope our future sports-car races, both long and not-so-long, will be eontined to reasonably standard sports models, and if the Trade entries do not_ materialise (which, alas, would not surprise me at all) there will he less reason than ever to allow those loopholes for purposes or research before the war, enabled Italians to win
sports-car races in P3 Alfas and British speed kings to use cylinder blocks with huge ports, double the number Of holdingdown studs, and extra water passages, providing they corresponded in material to those used by you and me, or light-alloy, high-ratio rear-axles, providing the width was the same as that of the hopelessly heavy, undergeared axle on the catalogue models—and suchlike tommy rot.
I ant sure it was merely John Bolster’s good taste that prevented him from adorning his four-engined ” Mary ” with a hood and screen and winning the Tourist Trophy ! Davies concludes his survey by anticipating a reasonably rapid resumption of short races at Doningtort and the CryStal. Palace, and of sand races and sprints. But he ends on a note of warning, reminding us that, although latent enthusiasm is higher now than ever befOre, of the four sources of racing finance—the monies of wealthy amateurs, gate money, Trade subsidy and municipal subsidy—only gate money and municipal subsidy will be likely to exist at pre-1939 values. Wealthy amateurs, he believes, will be much less evident than before, and Trade subsidies had all but ceased, anyway. So much for Mr. Davies. 1 le was followed by Cecil Kimber, M.I.A .E., whose generally very sane article was published in the A utocar of January 21st. Briefly, Klaiber expressed the following views : That class records are of far more value than the land speed record attempts. That, speed not being essential to good sport and the requisite public interest, corners are
Ore engine of the 11-litre 1-8 Mci iedcs-13ent.7. It has twin o.k. camshafts, valves
inclined at 60, steel cylinders separate from the crankcase with welded-on steel water-jacket, fixed heads, and a Roots’ supercharger drawing from a fixed choke Solcx carburetter. How Cecil kimber has been misled into believing it to comprise, in effect, two banks of the racing 750-c.c. M.G. engine used in Germany by KOhlrausch, we cannot understand. essential, and track-racing ruled out in consequence. He felt the early rejuvenation of Brooklands doubtful (but hoped he would be wrong), described the Crystal Palace as “quite a nice little sporting course,” but gave the plums to Donington. G.P. racing would have to await the day of universal peace, as Mr. Davies visualised. Kimber quotes the 11-litre Mercedes-Benz as a pointer that the G.P. formula would have come down to 1,500 c.c., which is probably true, although Mercedes-Benz, of course, built these cars
for existing separate races and only ran them in such. That Le Mans and the T.T. must be revived. Kimber very rightly devotes considerable space to a criticism of the existing handicapping methods, in which the victory of one class of car automatically penalised that category the following year, or, as he sees it, the handicap was juggled to entice likely entries. He wants to see less possibility of racing-type cars entering, and handicapping on a class basis with an equal chance on paper of victory for all. It is most significant that he is dubious of manufacturers supporting racing for some years after the war ; and he reminds us that Trade subsidies were defunct before 1937. That “shorts,” of clubman’s day type, will revive, with emphasis on Donington, and Shelsley Walsh to be regarded as a more professional, but.very desirable, fixture. Kimber concludes by placing emphasis on the extent to which racing is dependent on gate-money, and thinks that municipal subsidy can help substantially,
Raymond Mays, in his future forecast, takes a look first at track racing. He considers that Brooklands Outer Circuit has “decisively passed the heyday it enjoyed when the great 500-Mile Race was on the crest of the wave.” Personally, I should put the period 1920-1924 as the heyday of the Outer Circuit. He feels that the proprietors must realise this and ” it seems doubtful, even if the authorities are able and willing to put the main circuit back into commission (as they may well be, if only for the subscription revenue its existence guarantees), whether many of the fastest Brooklands cars will be brought out of retirement when the Axis has taken the count.” I must here remind Mays and others that the existence of Brooklands is extremely desirable for the purpose of pre-race testing. I am sure Reid Railton and Peter Berthon will confirm that they were happier conducting early experi ments that led to the present perfection of the E.R.A. engine and chassis, in the wide open spaces of Brooklands than they would have been if confined to the narrow ways of road-circuits. There are many tests which cannot be safely or conveniently carried out over a roadcourse during the practising period, whereas Brooklands accommodates all comers without fear or favour. As to the subscription value of the Outer Circuit, after the unkind things the late Sir Henry Birkin and others have said about it. I do not think many 13.A.R.C. members drove over it very much unless in racesthey joined for free entry as spectators and for the social amenities of Brooklands, and with the Mountain and Campbell Circuits in use, they will do so again. But we must have the Outer Circuit restored, for the use of racing men, engineers and journalists with testing to do—and because a few queer mortals like myself enjoy driving round it pretending to be racing drivers, whereas at Donington or the Palace we shall wear out our brakes,
or even go to hospital, if we so indulge. Mays, having disposed of our dear old concrete saucer, then expresses the view that great success should attend the building, in this country, of a brand new Hoosier Bowl, on the lines of Indianapolis, Montlhery, or Avus. Well, neither Indianapolis nor Avus are true examples of Hoosier Bowl, and, indeed, Mays
stipulates that steep bankings, enabling spectacular overtaking at 180 or even 200 m.p.h., would be advisable. I can only remark that I cannot see either the track, or the special ‘cars called for, materialising.
Mays sees new popularity records for Donington, Brooklands Campbell Circuit and the Crystal Palace being set as soon as the promoting clubs get their machinery in action after the war. He thinks the location of the Palace circuit gives it the greatest possibilities as a box-office attraction, but, as holder of the lap record with his 2-1itre E.R.A., would like to see the course speeded up by elimination of some of the twistier sections. Mays pays his tribute to Donington Park, and. goes on to say that, although the international element will be absent for a period after the war, he thinks there was a tendency in this country greatly to exaggerate the significance of the foreign element in British races—the fact remains that the greatest gates ever seen at motorracing in this country coincided with the appearance of the German teams in the Donington Grands Prix races of 1937 and 1938.
Mays touches on the training of “new blood ” as drivers and mentions, for the first time in print in any motoring paper, a report that a “well-known showman not previously associated with motorracing, has a scheme afoot for the acquisition or leasing of redundant Service aerodromes after the war, with the object of adapting them for road-racing. I do not know how much headway this excellent plan has made, but gather that the idea would be to purchase as many cars as possible of a particular make and type and to stage one-make events for aspiring [and, I expect, perspiring—En.] beginners, who would hire their mounts from the promoter.”
Is it such an excellent plan So many people want to compete in club events with their own cars that the numbers competing in these one-make orgies would never be large, so this form of training would presumably be very costly—ask Eric Giles why the B.O.C. sold the club car. If gate-money is sought to bring in revenue, I think the promoters would find they would be backing the wrong horse, for not many people vant to see unknown raw amateurs coin wting in allof-a-sameness sports cars. Not., that is, unless the thing is mightily spectacular, and that could only be achieved by introducing dangerous bends and corners or unnatural hazards, which would only lead to accidents, and bring racing as a whole into disrepute, so that the R.A.C.
and MOTOR SPORT would oppose the scheme for all they are worth. I can only advise the unknown showman to drop the idea before he loses all his money.
Raymond Mays rightly sees the need for really large attendances at British motor racing, to help provide the necessary funds ; he considers, unfortunately, that a big crowd cannot necessarily be the right crowd. He deplores the absence of a Barnum or a Cochran on the promoting side of British racing—but let us not forget that Barnum staged great circuses and Cochran spectacular shows. Mays concludes by suggesting that the public likes speed at close quarters better than anything else, in direct contrast to Cecil Kimber, who considers that cornernegotiation makes the greatest appeal. I cannot resist reminding Mays that most people, if asked where they got their greatest impression of speed, the MercedesBenz and Auto-Unions at Donington excepted, would say, “Oh, on the Members’ or Byffeet bridges at Brooklands, of course.” Incidentally, I think My most vivid impression was of the late Richard Shuttlaworth’s Bugatti finishing the timed half-mile at Brighton.
There, then, you have the crystalgazing conclusions of three experts and, as I said before, I would not dare to expand this subject. I will say, however, that the findings of Davies, Kimber and Mays are much as one would expect, and are certainly not too dismal. Before we leave these matters, I feel obliged to correct Mr. Kimber on one or two points. He states that “land speed records” bear no relation to real racing or car development, but that “news value “is created for them for the benefit of the general public. That is, I agree, nearly true, but has not always been so— witness the 4-litre Sunbeam and Lockhart’s wonderful 8-litre 200-m.p.h. Stutz (in which car, of course, Lockhart was killed, and not in the 11-litre Miller, as a contemporary said recently). Then, surely, Fort Dunlop, if it claims to learn useful lessons making tyres for ordinary racing ears, must -learn .other useful lessons planning tyres to withstand speeds of 300 m.p.h. plus. And surely Reid Railton gleaned just a little worthwhile knowledge from designing Cobb’s wonderful twin-Napier-engined Railton. Next, I have the greatest admiration for Lt.-Coi. Gardner and his 200 m.p.h. records in the International 1,100 c.c. and 1,500 c.c. classes, but Mr. Kimber is wrong in .believing that “the muchvaunted German Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union cars hold class records in some of the higher categories at speeds lower than Garclner’s.'”rhe facts are that when the M.G. clocked 203.5 m.p.h. for the kilometre at Dessau, the 3-litre
record belonged to Mercedes-Benz at 247.4 m.p.h., the 5-litre record to AutoUnion at 218.7 m.p.h., and the up-to8-litres record to Mercedes, at 268.9 m.p.h. Incidentally, it has been calculated that to break these records the M.G. would need at least 242, .350 and 450 b.h.p., respectively, assuming its frontal area and weight to he unchanged. As a conscientious motoring writer, even at the risk of being thought proGerman, I must also take Cecil Kimber on one states that “It may be news to many that the Mercedes concern had purchased from Koldrausch the 750-c.c. M.G. with which he took records at 140 m.p.h. The engine in his car was, in design, very similar to, and the forerunner of, Gardner’s recordbreaker. From reliable information I was able to obtain, there is no doubt that the new 1,500-c.c. Mercedes Grand Prix racer was, in effect, two banks of the 750-c.c. M.G. engine in the form of a veeeight. It’s nice to know that we can teach Germany something about racing engines.” Well, Germany probably said something like that last time, when we rushed one of the 1914 Mercedes G.P. cars to RolLs-Royce, Ltd., for a detailed examination. But the facts are as follows : the M.G. had a single o.h. camshaft operating vertical valves, the sparking plugs being in one side orthe detachable iron cylinder head. The cast-iron block was in one with the crankcase and the
blower was Of vane type, drawing from a variable-choke S. U. carburetter. The 1/litre V8 Mercedes-Benz bad twin o.h. camshafts per block, operating valves inclined at 60°, the sparking plugs being in the centre of the fixed head. The steel cylinders were separate from the crankcase and had a welded-on water jacket, and the Roots blower sucked from a fixed-choke Solex carburetter. The Mercedes was probably about 60 by 66 I11111. bore and stroke ; the M.G. was 57 by 13 mm.—W.B.