THE ARGENTINE SEASON
WHILE the Northern hemisphere was suffering from ice and snow and freezing winds, way down in Argentina the motorracing season commenced with two World Championship events and a Formule Libre event under warm skies.
The first race, on January 22nd. was the Grand Prix of the Argentine, held on the Buenos Aires Autodrome circuit of 4 kilometres to the lap for a duration of three hours. Only the Ferrari and Maserati teams competed, Mercedes-Benz sticking to their withdrawal from Grand Prix racing and Gordini and the three British teams being unable to stand the financial or time strain of such a trip. The B.R.M. team sent their number one driver Hawthorn with their Maserati, the B.R.M. itself not yet being ready, while the new Vanwall was still being tested at Goodwood. Maserati sent a large number of their 250/FI cars virtually unchanged from last season, while Ferrari took an assorted collection of available parts assembled into various forms of Grand Prix ears. Having all the Lancia cars and pieces as well as his own cars, Ferrari rang all the possible .changes and tried the lot in a hit-or-miss experiment that proved to he successful. There was the normal 050 Lancia Va, a normal Super Squalo Ferrari four-cylinder, a Super Squalo fitted with a Lancia engine, a 1)50 Lancia fitted with Super Squalo-type de Dion rear end with high-mounted roll-free transverse leaf-spring and rear fuel tank, On which car the exhaust pipes extended sideways through the fuel-tank pontoons, only a small portion at the front of each pontoon being used for reserve fuel, and a shortened version of the Super Squalo with larger tail tank in place of the pannier Cockpit tanks. The works Maserati drivers were Moss, Behra, Gonzalez (making a welcome return), and Menditeguy, and they were opposed by Fangio, Castellotti, Musso, Collins and Gendebien representing the Ferrari stable. In spite of the variety of cars the two teams would appear to be extremely evenly matched as they are with regard to drivers, and though Fangio won the Argentine Grand Prix he span off the course twice in doing so and used two cars, taking over from Musso when his own blew up. He admitted freely that he had not had to drive a Grand Prix car so near the limit. for a very long time. During the three hours of raeing the lead was juggled about amongst
Musso, Gonzalez. Menditeguy, Moss and Fangio, so it. will be seen that if the 1956 season goes to plan we shall not have to suffer any more ” demonstration runs” like those of 1955.
The Formate Libre race was held on February 5th at Mendoza, some 600 miles from Buenos Aires, on another 4.18-kilometre artificial Autodrome circuit for 60 laps. The same teams competed and the race was a repetition of the Buenos Aires one, with nothing a foregone conclusion. Fangio was again the winner, but he had to work for his victory, while the Lancia/Ferrari combinations, like the Maseratis, were far from perfect or reliable. At the moment it is true to say that almost anyone could win a Grand Prix race and not for some time has the issue been so wide open. When the British and French teams join in later on in the season we should see some really interesting and exciting racing.
On January 29th, on a circuit comprising some of the Buenos Aires Autodrome and a length of double-track road outside, making a lap of 9.5 kilometres, a 1,000-kilometre sports-car race was held, being the first round in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. Both Italian teams participated as well as many locals, and it was yet another Ferrari/Maserati battle, the main adversaries being the new 4.9-litre V12 Ferrari short-chassis model and the Maserati 300S, the 3-litre six-cylinder derivation of the Grand Prix car. Of the 26 cars which started only 11 finished and to make up for the loss of the Argentine Grand Prix Maserati won this sports-car event, the winning car being shared by Moss and Menditeguy.
A CONNAUGHT TALK
ON Friday, January 27th, the two brains behind Connaught Engineering, Rodney Clarke and Mike Oliver, gave an informal talk to the Hants 8: Berks Motor Club. Unlike most talks this was impromptu, the subjects being provided by the audience, the speakers enlarging on the question once they had been given a lead. As a result of this the audience listened to things that interested them rather than those that interested the speakers and also some absolute “gems “of information slipped out which would never have appeared had the talk being prepared beforehand. Questions about engine development and the memorable trip to Syracuse were dealt with by Oliver, while those referring to chassis design, testing and general policy were the province of Clarke. The efficient way in which the two of them co-operated in their replies was indicative of the perfect harmony that exists in this small but effective design team. Being immediately after the Monte Carlo Rally, the story of the journey to Sicily with a Ford Zephyr and two A.E.C. coaches which the Connaught team undertook, made that Bally seem no more arduous than a drive from London to Brighton. On technical subjects Oliver gave some interesting reasons as to why the S.U. fuel-injection system was dropped in favour of Weber carburetters. One of the biggest problems was that racing conditions could not be reproduced on the test-bed, while the injectionpump control unit, was quite incapable of dealing with the conditions brought about by an unsupercharged engine with very large valve overlap. Clearly it will function on a supercharged engine, but on a normally aspirated engine it required so many over-riding controls to deal with special circumstances, such as the manifold depression on tick-over with the throttle shut, which the S.U. unit could not differentiate from the depression caused by a wide open throttle at low revs, that, in Oliver’s words, “by the time all the over-riding controls had ridden over each other, it was too late.” It was generally agreed that injection into the ports was not satisfactory with a racing engine running with extreme valve timing; injection into the cylinder was the best method. The Alta engine as used by
Connaught was only modified by them as regards the cylinder head, valve gear, porting, etc., the basic unit supplied by Geoffrey Taylor most satisfactory.
On the subject of road-holding Clarke admitted that the prototype Connaught Formula II car back in 1950 was a very hit or miss affair, and they learnt about road-holding from practical application. Ho did admit, however, that the seeds of his knowledge were sown by reading a treatise published in 1937-38, written by Maurice 01ley. Practical application, together with the workshop ability of the Connaught mechanics, enabled ideas to be tried rapidly and results obtained reasonably quickly.
When asked about the future the reply was that no change had been made and conditions were the same as at the end of the 1955 season. However, neither speaker looked unhappy, in fact, there was an air of satisfaction about them with regard to the financial future.
The brains of Connaught Engineering left the Hants & Berks members with a feeling that the successes of Connaught ears had been brought about by hard work, clear thinking; a logical approach to basic engineering problems and sheer enthusiasm for motor racing. It was very obvious that both designers were very capable and able to avoid wastage of time due to ‘ knowing all about everything,” their approach to a subject being remarkably logical and emanating from basic facts rather than personal preferences and ” bees in the bonnet” which a lot of designers suffer from.—D. S. J.
SNETTERTON ON MARCH 25th
The rearm season opens on March 17th with a Goodwood Members’ Meeting and on March 25th comes the first National Race Meeting at Snetterton. Racing commences at 2 p.m. (entries close March 17th, to Mr. Sear, Little Rowley, East Hailing, Norwich), and there will be seven races, one a Lotus-only handicap, the others being two five-lap races for li-litre and unlimited sports cars; a 10-lap race for sports/racing cars up to 14 litres; a 15-lap F. III race; a 15-lap unlimited sports/racing cars event; a 10-lap handicap for all sports/racing ears. Some of the rapes will be divided into classes, while the sensible arrangement will be adopted of segregating sports from sports/racing cars, so that, for instance, an XKI.20 will not have to compete with a Lotus ! At the time of writing Oliver Sear tells us ho hopes to receive entries from Scott-Brown in the new ListerMaserati, which is lighter than lust year and carefully tuned for Brian Lister by Don Moore, Duncan Hamilton, Cliff Davis, John Ogler in his new Tojeiro, and the Ecurie Eeosso D-type Jaguars, of which Titterington’s holds the sports-car lap record. Chapman will no doubt try out a new Lotus; he now laps nearly as fast as the B.R.M. aid in 1953! Practice will take place from 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. on race day with a break from 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. to avoid disturbing local church services—an eXce!lent move which we hope all present will respect. Snetterton circuit has a lap distanee
of 2.71 miles and is 90 miles from London on A 11. Get there early chaps but don’t drive like maniacs !
CASTROL ” ACHIEVEMENTS “
First produced in 1909, the booklet of annual competition successes achieved by users of Castrol oil is of the former high standard. The latest edition runs to 48 pages and is packed with pictures of the Sport on two wheels and four, from which we are reminded that Mercedes-Benz last year used Castrol in winning five out of six grander epreuves and gaining the Sports-Car Championship, that the European Touring Championship was won on Castrol for the third year in succession, and that other notable users were Porsche. Aston Martin, Geoff. Duke, Hermann Muller, Willi Faust, etc. The pictures include close-ups of Fangio and Moss, while our Continental Correspondent, who partnered Moss in the Mule Miglia victory, features in several pictures, including one of the coloured cover illustrations. Incidentally, is it not illuminating that in an age of new vieco-statie, detergent, anti-oxidant, multigrade, heavy-duty lubricants, that the aces depicted in this book continue to use Castro’ ? You can obtain a free copy of ” Achievements-1955 ” by writing to C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd., 46, Grosvenor Street, W.1, mentioning this paper. &MATTI O.C. FIXTURES FOR 1956
‘March 4th Annual Prize-giving Party and Opening Rally.
April 7/8th Testing Weekend—Prescott.
May 516th International Hill-Climb–Prescott.
June 9/10th Members’ Hill-Climb—Prescott.
July 28/29th … inter-Club Meeting—Prescott.
Sept. 8/9th … International Hill-Climb—Prescott. November 23rd … Annual Dinner and Dance. December 1st/2nd Winter Rally. * * * V.S.C.C. FIXTURES FOR 1956
March 24/25th Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Competition.
April 7/8th Buxton Rally and Driving Tests.
April 21st … Silverstone Race Meeting.
April 22nd … Light Car Trial and A.G.M.
May 5th … Night Navigation Trial (Devon).
May 12th … Edwardian and Light Car Rally.
May 13th …
June 23rd … Prescott Hill-Climb.
Race Meeting (provisional), Silveratone Race Meeting. July 28th … Madrcslield Rally.. September 2nd
Welsh Rally and Trial. October 6/7th Eastern Rally. November 4th
• • • Northern Trial. November 24th
Southern I /riving Tests. December 8th or 9th