THE daily newspapers seem to have discovered after some rather strident years that motorracing has more in it than merely ” dicing with death,” and I only saw one mention of “speed demon” and that in an American journal. The old spirit dies hard however, and the worst offender was a woman journalist at Monte Carlo. “It was a very bad race,” she said, “no accidents at all and the leading ears kept going all the time. I’ve such a headache with Mr. Nuvolari’s car. You know it screamed like a railway engine. I’m sure I don’t know what to write about the
A Successful Beginning.
The Monaco Grand Prix always attracts a fine crowd for apart from its spectacular nature, it is the first big race of the season, and 400 cars an hour were said to have passed through the Italian customs that day. Dr. Porsche, the designer of the Auto Union racing cars, was one of the spectators.
The course was opened by Rudolf Caracciola, who drove round in one of the new 2.8 litre Mercedes. Out of the car he walked with a stick, limping considerably, and I very much doubt whether he will be able to drive this season.
Welcoming the 2.8.
Bugatti racing drivers now in retirement inspected the new cars with interest, and amongst them I met Philippe, otherwise Philippe de Rothschild, who finished fourth in the first Monaco Grand Prix which took place in 1929.
Benoist, who has not driven a racing car since the San Sebastian Grand Prix of 1928, proved himself quite capable of dealing with the 1934 machines, and lapped in 2 min. 2 sec. during practising. In the actual race, of course, only Dreyfus and Wimille drove, and the latter was eliminated by brake trouble at an early stage. All the rivets in th rear brake linings sheared.
A surprising feature of this first race under the weight limitation rules is that 2.3 Bugattis and 2.3 Alfas can
be brought within the limit with judicious lightening. No doubt John Cobb and Kaye Don, who own cars of the latter type, are looking out the old family breastdrill. Penn-Hughes was rather disgruntled that he had not realised the possibility of entering the 2.6.
Subject to Conformation.
Incidently I think Penn must be haunted by a poltergeist in the form of a thwarted and departed publicity agent, which is determined to muddle up all news about the unfortunate hauntee. Anyhow I was officially informed that Penn was driving an Aston Martin in the 1,000 Miles race, whereas what was meant was that he hoped to be driving one in the 4,000 Miles race which takes place at the end of May. Bertelli has decided to enter a single car to see how strictly the regulations are interpreted, with the idea of entering a team in 1934. In future all Penn Hughes news will be headed ” subject to interference by spooks.”
Racing in Italy.
As has already been noted, elaborate preparations have been made for welcoming English entrants for the 4,000 Miles race, otherwise the Coppa d’Oro. It is to be hoped that equal attention will be paid to getting spares through the Italian Customs. Last year it took three weeks to get 2300 worth of M.G. spares into Italy, and even then a deposit of 21,000 had to be paid. This year the process was not quite so lengthy, but I don’t imagine that Lord Howe’s mechanics enjoyed their three day’s wait at the Ventimiglia frontier post.
Lord Howe’s accident was, I should imagine, one of the nearest things he has had in his racing career. After sliding off the road at 75 m.p.h. and scraping along a stone wall for some distance, the car crashed into a telegraph post, which broke off and fell directly on the car. The windscreen and scuttle took some of the shock but the driver’s crash helmet was forced hard down on his temple inflicting a nasty cut. Thomas, the mechanic, was not touched, and carried Lord Howe into a little farm house and asked for water. The farmers had no illusions about the purity of their water and insisted on bringing half a gallon of red wine in a basin. The shock of that on the wounds on head and arm must have had a very reviving effect.
E. L. Gardner took Lord Howe back to Brescia later that evening in his 8 litre Bentley, little the worse for his adventure, and he will be fit in time to drive in the International Trophy.
Perils of the Road.
While the Minister of Transport was introducing his Bill for the introduction of a 30 m.p.h. limit in built-up areas I was acquiring the Italian technique. All you have to do is to drive flat out through every village, making as much noise as you can, with thumb flattened on the button of your loudest horn.
The inhabitants understand that you are in a hurry and move back two or three paces to let you through. Occasionally the local authorities take an unfair advantage of the motorist by laying cobbles so rough that 25 m.p.h. is the highest speed at which you can drive a conventional car, which partly explains the popularity of independent wheel springing.
If a pedestrian is injured, however, the car and the driver are both arrested, and one’s driving license is taken away until investigations have been made. I believe the percentage of accidents per car is actually lower in Italy than in England, and the system is said to work just as well as the English one.
The New Dudget.
Hard feeling against the new Traffic Bill will be offset to some extent by the reduction of the horse-power tax. Few people would deny that a large engined car is more pleasant to drive than one in which a small power-unit is being pushed to its uttermost, while the former type will have a much larger appeal in the Dominions. I should not be surprised to see a much greater number of American cars in England next year, for the horsepower tax has been the only factor in many cases which
has prevented the British public from taking advantage of their undoubted ” pep ” and performance. Owners of old ” 30-98’s ” and similar vehicles will also be delighted with the change. The reduction does not take place until January, 1935, of course, but no doubt the sales of big-engined cars will show a substantial increase in view of the future reduction.
The R.A.C. and Dirt Tracking.
The car race-meeting at Greenford Dirt Track did not come off last month after all. The R.A.C. regulations for a dirt track call for a 2 inch depth of cinders, whereas Spike Rhiando, who ought to know, says that half an inch is the maximum, otherwise the dirt banks up at the bends and a car in a slide is liable to turn over when it strikes these heavy “drifts.” The Company has now obtained a Race Track license, which will allow it to make its own regulations as to the surface and races to be run, so all should now be plain sailing. The first Meeting is to be on May 5th.
Since Horton had the bright idea of fitting an off-set streamlined body on a normal M.G. Midget chassis, the idea has grown in popularity. J. Eason Gibson, whose Brooldands Riley has often been seen in Mountain Races has now succumbed to the craze.
The chassis is a 1929 Brooklands one, extended in front to carry the radiator. The engine has received a fair amount of attention and is fitted with an enormous crank shaft, but retains the normal two-carburetter induction system. The body, which was designed by Gibson and fitted by the Beecholme Motor Company, only weighs 50 lbs. against 2f cwts. for the standard type. The petrol tank is carried alongside the body on the near side. For use on the outer circuit a small steering wheel will be used, and the driver will do his stuff inside a streamlined conning tower. I hope a tin-opener is included in the tool kit.
Gibson tells me he will be running the car at Donington on May 12th, and it will also be entered for the Empire Trophy. It should be a car to watch.
Car or Driver.
On several occasions lately I have come across a belief among racing followers that the car counts a good deal more than the driver. Further investigation revealed that this statement was levelled particularly against young drivers who have distinguished themselves in racing, and I thereupon decided that the root of the matter lay in jealousy. This is what generally happens. A man owns a small sports car, which he learns to handle with Skill on corners. He then goes to Brooklands or Shelsley or the Continent as a spectator, and there sees a young man of similar age and apparently similar capabilities driving a Grand Prix racing car in first-class fashion, breaking records
and winning races. It looks easy. The car brakes heavily for a corner, the front wheels juddering. With confident movements the driver holds it under firm control, sliding round the corner and accelerating with fierce wheelspin and instantly-corrected skids.
“I am sure I could do that,” mutters the spectator. “That car has got such terrific brakes and acceleration that you can’t go wrong with it. If only I had So-andSo’s money . . . ! “
It’s only human, isn’t it ? But just a little childish, I’m afraid. By comparing the performances of different drivers on the same car or type of car it is obvious that to handle a G.P. car well requires just as much ” flair ” as to be a scratch-man at golf, or play tennis at Wimbledon. Frank admiration of another man’s prowess does no one any harm. •
It is an aphorism to say that racing motor cyclists invariably make first-class car drivers. Nuvolari and Varzi abroad, Dixon and Crabtree over here, all testify to the truth of the statement:
This season a newcomer to car racing from T.T. work will appear, W. L. (” Wal “) Handley. Now Handley is generally acknowledged among motor-cyclists to be a genius, literally speaking. Some of his rides in the Isle of Man have been uncanny, and for sheer brilliance he is unsurpassed.
Now among the riders to whom Handley used to hand out a sound beating was one Tazio Nuvolari, and a friend of mine who saw the two men in action several times tells me that there was no doubt as to who was the better rider. In his opinion (and he is a competent judge), Handley would soon become our No. 1 Grand Prix driver, given the opportunity, and he even goes so far as to say that he would back Handley against Nuvolari or Varzi on any road circuit—driving similar cars.
Handley’s first appearance will be at Brooklands in the International Trophy, driving in Kaye Don’s team of M.G. Magnettes. The course, however, will hardly give him scope to show his skill.
A New Bentley at Le Mans ?
For some time there have been persistent rumours that one of the new 3i litre Bentleys would be raced during the present season. It is now almost certain that one of these cars will be entered by Eric Burt for the Le Mans 24 Hours Race. The entry is of course an entirely private venture, and the makers will not be taking part in races during 1934.
The May Meeting at Donington. The and
The Derby and District M.C. are holding their next meeting on the Donington track on May 12th. A 25 mile scratch race for cars up to three litres will be the most important event, with a first prize of £20. There will be six five-lap scratch races for cars of various capacities, and single seaters will be allowed.