IT is pleasant, in a troubled Europe, to reflect that the annual 500-mile race is due to take place as usual at the Indianapolis track in America on the 30th of this month. The U.S.A. is now fully engaged in the war effort necessary to end for all time Nazi aggression, but in the midst of such an undertaking the classic “500” is to be held. Although we hold no brief for American racing in general and rather deplore her exaggerated love of the cinder-track, we should certainly be very sorry indeed to see the discontinuance of the classic race at Indianapolis.
This contest has much in common with the great outer-circuits held in the past at Brooklands, which were, indeed, the only form of regular long-distance events which we in this country were able to enjoy until 1925. The first Indianapolis race was held 30 years ago, in 1911, and the winners have comprised Miller eleven times, Peugeot thrice, Duesenberg thrice, Maserati, Marmon, National, Delage, Mercedes, Monroe, Frontenac, H.C.S., once each, and Specials have proved the victor on three occasions. The race was won at over 101 m.p.h. as early as 1925 and at an average of 117.2 m.p.h. in 1938. Not much news of the 1941 race is to hand, but some 50 cars are expected to run in the qualifying trials. The first entry came from Leon Duray, and we like the description of him as “a movie director’s idea of what a racing driver should look like,” in Joe Copp’s Indianapolis bulletin—moderate for America! He has nominated a conventional, 1939, car, make unstated, in place of the too-experimental two-stroke he so often drove himself. George Robson is named as his driver. Mauri Rose, who finished third last year in an Elgin Piston Pin Special (ugh!) is expected to be a likely winner, driving the ex-Schell Maserati that came in tenth in the 1940 race, Le Begue up. The car is entered by Lou Moore and rebuilt, using American parts. The other ex-Schell Maserati has been purchased by the Elgin Piston Pin Company and will also run; the driver’s name is not yet known. If all goes smoothly a great race should result, and on May 30th the thoughts of every enthusiast in this country will be centred on the track at Indianapolis away across the Atlantic—if, that is, we have any time at all for meditation.
In offering our congratulations to Major Frank Bernard Halford on the design of the new Napier “Sabre” aero engine—which some people have described as the motor which is going to win the war for us—we also pride ourselves that he is, or was, very much of our world. Educated at Felsted and Nottingham University, Major Halford joined the Bristol School of Flying at Brooklands in 1912 and became assistant instructor. Up to 1914 he was at Farnborough, on A.I.D. work. He joined up with the R.F.C. and saw service overseas, but was ordered to return to England in 1916, when he joined Pullinger in the design of the Beardmore B.H.P. aero-engine, afterwards the Siddeley “Puma.” After the war he joined Ricardo on i.c. engine research and sold Ricardo’s patents in America. Later he took the 500 c.c. Hour Record at Brooklands on a Ricardo-Triumph and finished fourth in the 1924 200-mile Race with an Alvis. Halford then became an independent consulting engineer and designed the famous “Cirrus” and “Nimbus” aero-engines. He designed, also, the advanced Roots supercharged 1½ -litre six-cylinder engine which, installed in an old Aston-Martin chassis, finished seventh in the 1925 200-mile Race at 61.8 m.p.h., being placed fourth in the 1,500 c.c. category. In 1926 the Halford Special—in those days adjudged one of the prettiest cars at the Track—won a 90 m.p.h. Short Handicap at nearly 96 m.p.h. and eventually did over 120 m.p.h.