(In view of the growing interest in 750 and 1,172 Formulae racing, we give herewith a resume of progress in this field, written by H. Birkett, Chairman of the 750 M.C. — Ed.)
In the history of motor racing there have been many attempts made, in varying degrees of altruism, to provide some form of cadet racing for those unable to afford the pursuit of this terribly expensive hobby on their own. The pre-war Junior Racing Drivers’ Club, and the immediately post-war projects of Raymond Mays, “Holiday Camp” Butlin, and Madame Itier of Paris, all failed In materialise to any extent. 500-c.c. racing has very satisfactorily met the needs of the middle-income group; we must not forget that the Iaunching of this movement was largely to the credit of the Bristol M.C. & L.C.C., and was no doubt originally inspired by the successful but purely local Capa racing scheme.
The Seven-Fifty M.C., following discussion in the correspondence pages of Motor Sport in 1943, decided to make a further attempt, and in 1949 announced that in 1950 they would ask clubs promoting sports-car race meetings to include an event for cars constructed to the 750 M.C. Formula. This, in brief, laid down that the machines must be two-seat, road-equipped cars with full electrical equipment, powered by a side-valve, unblown, Austin Seven engine, using gearbox, rear axle and chassis side-members from the same range of models. The prevailing notion that intrinsic speed was the only essential to good spectacle represented the chief resistance to the idea but the ball was set rolling by reason of the club’s part-promotion of the Eight Club’s Silverstone meeting, the first of the series being in 1950 and including a well-supported and quite exciting 750 Formula race. The redoubtable Jack Woodhouse of S.U.N.B.A.C. took up the torch at their Silverstone meeting of that year; as it happened, every event that day was a dull procession except the 750 Formula race, which was even more exciting than the previous one as the cars were extremely well matched, if somewhat slow.
In 1951 a large number of clubs agreed to co-operate, giving too full a programme for the average participant to cope with, and every race was completely dominated by one particular car, the Austin Lotus. The outstanding performance of this machine drew considerable attention to the formula, but the races were uniformly poor in entries and spectator-value, so that it was with some trepidation that the 750 Club proceeded with its programme for 1952. Luckily the Lotus had changed hands, and, as so often happens, exhibited considerable temperament under new ownership. The five races were all well supported and of high spectator-value, particular that at the Aston-Martin O.C. Silverstone meeting which was really heart-stopping. That year without doubt saw the establishment of the 750 Formula.
Interest amongst the contestants was enhanced by the awarding of an annual trophy presented by the President, Charles Goodacre, to the driver having the most success through the season calculated on a points basis. This was won by Charles Bulmer, Lionel West and Ron Grimsley, in 1956, 1951 and 1952, respectively.
Mindful of the future, the club made a move last year which gave rise to some little outcry amongst the Austin Seven diehards. It announced a similar formula, calling for a Ford Ten engine, without restriction as to chassis and transmission, but with more severe limitations of engine specification, including the use of a normal camshaft unaltered, and a minimum weight limit to inhibit the use of expensive ultra-light chassis structures. This was done because all the parts called for by the 750 Formula were out of production, and, moreover, many constructors were finding that engine development was revealing fundamental weaknesses in the crankshaft department. It is thought by the Committee that the 1,172 Formula will eventually become the more popular, by reason of the very small likelihood of engine “blow-ups.”
Although a few races have been staged for Ford-engined cars, the first ever to be run under the formula as such was at lbsley last month. Up to the present there is no equivalent of the Goodacre Trophy for 1,172 Formula racing; this could be an opportunity for a would-be benefactor.
Specifications of some of the well-known cars built to these formulae follow:
AUSTIN SEVEN SPECIALS
J.M.G. Michelson’s Austin — This is the ex-P.J. Stephens Stoneham Special.
R. Lowe’s Lowe Special — Cambridge Engineering cylinder head. Triple water take-offs. Scintilla vertical magneto. Twin S.U.s. “Chummy” fuel tanks in scuttle and tail. Four-speed close-ratio gearbox. 4.9 axle. Ford divided front axle. Newton dampers all round. Morris hydraulic brakes. 400-15 front, 4.75 back tyres.
R.H. Grimsley’s Austin — Won Goodacre Trophy, 1952. Standard Austin engine, developed. 1933 Ford Ten carburetter. Standard four-speed Austin gearbox, remote control. Ford Ten front axle and Girling brakes. Austin Seven back brakes. Outrigged telescopic rear dampers. Ford front axle and steering. Early Austin chassis.
J. S. French’s “Simplicity Itself” — Austin Eight carburetter on “Nippy” manifold. Oversize inlet valves. S.U. electric pump feed from scuttle tank. Delco ignition coil. 1937 cylinder head. “Nippy” gearbox. 5.23 axle. L.M.B. front suspension. Flattened rear springs. Webbing bonnet straps. Chassis frame and body weigh 89 lb. (less wheels and tyres). 3.25-19 front, 110-40 rear tyres. Built in three week-ends for approx. £100. Won vintage race at lbsley.
F. N. Hood’s Austin — Standard Austin Seven engine. “Nippy” carburetter and gearbox. 5.6 axle.
F. J. Tiedeman’s Austin — 1931 “Ulster” with twin S.U.s unblown. “Ulster” head, enlarged inlet valves. “Ulster” gearbox. Standard “Ulster” suspension with one front shackle locked. Bowdenex front brake cables. 5.25 axle. 4.00-15 front, 5.00-15 back tyres (Michelin).
L..L. West’s Austin — Wide body. Tuned standard engine, very carefully assembled. Stiffened chassis. Ford front axle. Four-speed box. 5.25 axle. 15-in. wheels. Won 750 Formula Race at lbsley.
J.J. Macklin’s Austin Special — L.M.B. chassis and i.f.s. Front spring acts as own radius member. Normal unboxed chassis. “Ulster” box. Narrow two-seater body. Rotoflow front dampers. Four-branch outside exhaust system.
W. E. Wilks’ Austin — Ordinary early chassis. Twin S.U.s. Wide-ratio, three-speed gearbox.
A. McNorris’ West Special — Winner of Goodacre Trophy, 1951. Known as ” XK” Austin on account of body style. Touring engine, developed.
FORD TEN SPECIALS
P. A. Desoutter’s Ford Lotus — Very light, Mk VI Lotus frame. Coil springs front and rear. Girling brakes. Linered-down engine (1,099 c.c..). Twin 1-1/4-in. S.U.s. .Alloy cylinder head. 7 to I compression ratio. “Bunch of bananas” exhaust manifold. Type C Buckler close-ratio gears. Ordinary Ford axles and wheels. 4.7 axle. 4.00- 17 front, 5.25-16 back tyres.
D. H. Small’s D.H.S — Two-level home-made tubular frame. Split front axle with transverse spring. Coil springs at back. Buckler gears. .Aquaplane cylinder head and manifold. 4.7 axle. West London Repair Co.’s 14-in. front wheels. Won 1,172 Formula Race at Ibsley.
J.N. Dobb’s J.N.D. Special — Buckler frame with “cut and shut” seat and scuttle hoops to lower scuttle. Buckler Close-ratio gears. Twin S.U.s. 5.5 axle. 5.25-17 back tyres.
A.J. Currie’s Lotus lllb — Second Mk. III Lotus built. Linered-down engine (1,197 c.c.). Austin Ruby four-speed box on alloy housing. Alloy cylinder head. Twin choke d.d carburetter with hot-spots.
G. Tapp’s Buckler — Buckler frame and close-ratio gears. Twin S.U..s. Aquaplane cylinder head. Normal front axle. 4.7 back axle. Cowled radiator. West London Repair Co’s 14-in. front wheels, 16 in. back tyres. Gained a seeond and third at lbsley.
R. Yeat’s Yeats Special — Tubular frame. Swing axle i.f.s. with forward-facing radius-arms and Morris Minor torsion-bars. Twin choke d.d. carburetter sans hot-spot. Doorless Fiat 500 coupé body.
W. A. Liddell’s Buckler — Ford d.d. carburetter. Aquaplane head (but normal head for lbsley). All-enveloping body.
Major A. M. R. Mallock’s .Austin/Ford — Stiffened Austin Seven chassis. Austin divided front axle. 5.25 back axle. Austin “Nippy” d.d. carburetter
Lt. P.H. Scarf, R. M. and R. Carnegie, have Bucklers which are mostly standard, the latter’s using a standard single-carburetter induction system..