THE DOUBLE-TWELVE OUTLOOK
ON the 9th of this month the curtain rises on the first long-distance race of the season, namely the Junior Car Club’s Double-Twelve Hour Race at Brooklands.
After a ” close ” season of nearly seven months, everyone connected with the competing cars is now working at full pressure in order to have everything absolutely ready in time for the race. There are a hundred and one details to perfect, from devising the quickest method of inserting one’s legs into the cockpit of the car to inventing a really efficient and distinctive system of pit-signalling.
On the other hand, mere spectators can find plenty of material for discussion in the entries of cars and drivers, and while regretting the absence of many famous ‘marques,’ can speculate on the chances of the newcomers.
The number of entries is roughly sixty, on the face of it a very excellent total and one which should represent the majority of fast cars built to-day, but an examination of the list soon dispels this belief. In some classes, notably the 1500 c.c., the competition is definitely keen, while in others there is none at all ; many famous makes are missing, whereas in six cases there are five or more cars of one make entered, comprising in all over 50% of the total number of cars entered for the race. Among the large cars on the market, of which only Bentleys are entered, there are several American sixes and straight eights capable of a genuine 80 m.p.h. which, with a little tuning and preparation, would provide considerable competition in this class. Chrysler at Le Mans and Spa, Studebaker in last year’s Double Twelve, and Stutz in many races, have proved the worth
of three American makers at least, and it would be very interesting if other manufa&urers, such as Duesenberg, Rickenbaker, Graham-Paige, Nash, Packard, Auburn, Moon, Cadillac and Hupmobile would enter teams. Some of these cars have excellent performances to their credit on board-tracks, but have yet to prove their mettle on a road-cum-track circuit.
Then again, one cannot but deplore the lack of large continental cars, some of which, such as Voisin, Bignan, Peugeot, and Chenard Walker have already had experience of sports car racing in the early races of this type, and the Grand Prix de Tourisme in 1922-3. Other makes which occur to one are Renault, with the magnificent performances of the 45 h.p. model at Monthlery in mind, Minerva Speed Six, tried out at Spa last year, Panhard-Levassor, of speed trial and hill-climb fame, Hispano-Suiza, with particular reference to its match With the Stutz at Indianapolis, Isotta-Fraschini and Delage Straight Eight, especially after its rapid run of 4,300 miles in 8 days, in the hands of M. Robert Senchal. While regretting the lack of foreign competition among the large cars, one must not lose sight of the unqualified success of the Mercedes-Benz at Ulster last year, nor can one emphasise too strongly the fact that Bentley is the only manufacturer of large cars in this country who chooses to test his products in open competition. In spite of the argument that there is no need for them to race in order to prove the merits of their design, one cannot help wishing that Rolls-Royce would produce a large sports car, which with the performance of the Schneider Trophy engines as precedent, would certainly prove a very formidable competitor indeed, and one
likely to give England unrivalled supremacy in this class. Other British cars which would be sure to give a good account of themselves are the 4i-litre straight eight Lanchester, the 4i-litre Invicta, and the new lowered double six Daimler.
The 3-litre class suffered rather an eclipse last year, but a little extra interest is promised this year by the entry of an M.G. Six, an as yet untried design as far as racing is concerned. However, one misses such cars as the 3-litre Bentley, 3-litre Sunbeam, and Lorraine Six, a former Le Mans winner, and one cannot understand the absence of the Lancia Lambda, after its performances in Italy.
In the 2-litre class there are several newcomers, a team of Alvis Silver Eagles, Mollart’s A.C., a star performer in reliability trials, and an air-cooled Sara, a make which has had plenty of experience on the Continent, and is making a welcome debut in England. The supercharged O.M. proved its mettle in the Italian 1,000 Miles Race last year, when it was narrowly beaten by a 2-litre Alfa Romeo. The struggle will be renewed at Brooklands, and one of the two will probably provide the winner of this class. One would like to see the Diatto in action once more, while a likely British competitor would be the 2-litre Crossley. The if litre class, as usual, is the best filled, and the quality of the entrants is good enough to satisfy the
most ardent enthusiast. The front-drive Tracta is a new corner which has performed well at Le Mans, and should prove a worthy rival. Alfa Romeo, AstonMartin, Lea-Francis and Frazer-Nash complete the list. The result should be very interesting.
In the 1,100 c.c. class, two six cylinder Amilcars, five Rileys, a Salmson, five M.G. Midgets and a Fiat should provide an epic struggle, which could only be improved by a team of B.N.C.’s joining the fray.
Austin Sevens monopolise the 750 c.c. class, and if the supercharged models produce anything like their form in the T.T. and 500 miles race last year, they should have a very good chance of winning the race on handicap.
An interesting novelty this year is the inclusion of a chassis price classification award, which is intended to show how much speed with reliability can be bought for a certain sum of money. There is a set speed for each increase of chassis price, rising from 55 m.p.h. for a £100 chassis to 92 m.p.h. for a chassis costing 22,410. The winner will be the car which exceeds its specified average on the curve by the greatest amount.
In conclusion, despite the obvious deficiencies in the entry list, a very good race should result, and if the competition is not particularly keen in every class, one can look for another well-fought battle for the premier award on handicap, following the tradition of last year’s Double Twelve.