The British Grand Prix
Everyone I spoke to up at Don ington seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly, in spite of the unfortunate weather, and the event was such a success that no one can have any doubt that Grand Prix racing can become popular over here. The only possible alteration I can think of is that the length might be reduced from a hundred and twenty to one hundred
laps. Drivers and spectators beg-an to get a bit dizzy towards the end. One of the best features of the course, I think, is that everyone gets a perfect view of the racing from a number of points, better in fact than on the average Continental circuit. Unfortunately the crowds watching down at the old start got a little too eager and
pushed down the railings. Next year Mr. Craner. will have to be more careful about his de-fences (sorry).
The ” 200 ” Once Again
The Junior Car Club, always an enterprising body and one full of good ideas, has just made an important announcement. The 200 Miles race is to be revived, Gold Cup and all, and will take place on the Don ington circuit on the 29th August next year. Those exciting affairs down at Brooklands, in which Sir Henry Segrave used to figure so prominently on his Talbot
Darracq were limited to cars up to 11-litres. A special recognition of this class will be made in next year’s race, but I gather that Grand Prix cars of all sizes will be eligible for the main event.
Reverting to the Darlington Grand Prix, the rear suspension of the VS Masera,ti driven by Farina was a new departure even for the highly original Bologna factory. The differential casing was bolted to the chassis and the half-axles were free to move up and down the torque being taken by external rods with universal joints. The actual suspension was by leaf springs, with two-way shackles front and rear a little reminiscent of those on the family dog cart. The prop-shaft drive came in at the bottom of the casing, but whether the drive was by hypoid-bevels or a double-reduction gear, as on the Grand Prix Bugattis, I was unable to learn.
The car was impressively steady and displayed fine acceleration, and with another winter’s experimenting behind it, next season’s V8s will be worth watching.
Raymond Sommer, who has sampled a variety of Grand Prix circuits since he bought his Monoposto Alfa-Romeo, found the Doning-ton course much to his
” I don’t mind it being narrow. It’s amusingto drive on, plenty of fast bends and not what I call taxi-cab corners, where even the best driver can do nothing but brake almost to a standstill and go off again.” The Derby circuit is similar in plan to the Comminges course, on which Sommer won this year against Ferrari opposition, but there of course the straight is over two miles long instead of less than one, with a kink in it.
Flexibility at Speed
The . ifa chassis is so flexible that you can lift one wheel quite a long way without raising the other three, and consequently plenty of wheel-winding is needed on a bumpy course. If driven with care, however, the modern G.P. car can be surprisingly reliable, and Sommer finished in 12 out of the 14 races he competed in this year. There was a rumour at one time that he was lining up with Fairfield next year, but I was told that this will not happen.
An interesting point about the Alfa is that the makers advise that the blowers should be sent back to the works after every few races to have new rotors fitted. This is required because of the road dust sucked in, which wears them away and reduces their efficiency, but being an amateur Sommer is not able to indulge in such luxuries.
No French driver escapes from this country, I should imagine, without being asked the latest about Bugattis, especially in view of the rumour that an independently sprung 4.9-litre racing car is on the way, but I gather there is not much hope of it. The engine is in existence and you will remember was fitted into a 3.3-litre chassis for the French Grand Prix. The transmission remained that of the “3.3” and Benoist’s orders were ” two-five in the gears and put your foot down in top.” The car was pretty fast on the straights and the engine will be the basis of a good car, if Le Patron ever gets his subsidy from the racing car fund.
Bugatti rail-cars are being produced at the rate of one a week, and as each of them is driven by four of the Golden Bug type engines, it is naturally more lucrative to concentrate on this sort of vehicle rather than to produce racing cars, which cost a great deal to develop and then may not be quite fast enough.
All the same, Ettore has kept one eye lifting over the racing situation, and now that the Automobile Club de France has made its decision, which was forecast in last month’s issue, that the national event should be for sports cars only, he has produced the Competition Model of the popular 3.3-litre sports car. This has a four-carburetter engine in the Grand Prix chassis, complete with two-piece front axle and De Ram shock-absorbers. One of these chassis was exhibited at Olympia fitted with a most unorthodox body panelled in elektron, but the full sports version will have a streamlined open body of racing type. The rear seats will conform,but only just, toA.I.A.C.R.
regulations. They are carried in the pointed tail, and are normally covered with a flush-fitting lid. •
The new Alfas when they did finally arrive at Olympia provided a variety of surprises in the way of springing. The naughty looking two-seater “Twonine” which was rated at a pleasing 115 m.p.h., had its front wheels suspended on links swinging parallel to the chassis, Auto-Union fashion, the other ends of the links being connected to enclosed coil springs. The gear-box and differential casing were in one, bolted down to cross-members at the rear of the chassis. The swinging half-axles were suspended on a transverse leaf spring.
The front suspension of the 2.3-litre 6-cylinder car is similar to that used on the 2,900-A, as the supercharged model is called, but for the rear wheels torsion bars running parallel to the chassis sidemembers are used. No doubt there are subtle reasons for the employment of three different systems on two cars.
Seeing the Sights The Motor Show never fails to over some of
never to over some of the best-known Continental racing drivers, and this year Caracciola, Chiron and Wimille amongst others paid a visit to Olympia. Caracciola told me he was very thrilled with the shock-absorber control fitted on recent Rolls-Royce and Bentley models—” from smooth up-and-down to dead-hard in a second ” as he put it. He was also much impressed with the finish of English coachwork, and liked the new centrehung door which Messrs. James Young have just brought out.
Dr. Porsche was over too, busy it appears with the new cam-differential which I mentioned in these notes last month. Raymond Mays has ” advance-models ” of this ingenious device fitted to his E.R.A.s and must find them of tremendous value in getting away cleanly at Shelsley and in other sprint events. I hear that Dr. Porsche was asked by the E.R.A. people to design a chassis with torsion-bar suspension, but his fee was rather more than they could afford.
Incidentally the history and racing successes of the E.R.A. are fully dealt with in a beautifully produced and illustrated handbook which has just been published. Copies cost two shillings and the booklet has a looseleaf back so that you can take out pages and frame them without damaging the rest. E.R.A., Bourne, Lincs., is the address in case you want one.
No Forced Draught
One of the surprises of the Monte Carlo Rally “regs” is that supercharged cars are no longer eligible. This will come as a considerable disappointment for enthusiasts like Whalley who has been busy since last year fitting a blower to his Ford. Donald Healey tells me he had rebuilt the Triumph Dolomite, which of course was extensively damaged in the collision with the railway train in Denmark, and was looking forward to having another shot in it. As an experiment he has also tried boring out the engine to 2.5litres, and found that with two carburetters he could get nearly 95 m.p.h., with a petrol consumption of 20 m.p.g. The Dolomite chassis was magnificent on
slippery roads—Healey averaged 48 m.p.h. from Stockholm to Helsingborg, over roads which for the first hundred miles were coated with ice—and then had seven hours sleep before taking the ferry to Denmark.
With the change in markings however, there is little hope of winning from Sweden, so next January our Cornishman will probably be starting from Tallinn on a 6-cylinder Southern Cross Triumph with the usual huge wheels.
Greece Not Favoured
He does not fancy Athens as a starting point, considering that a car heavy enough to stand the roads from there will lose all its advantage in the final test against a lightweight from some less ambitious
” depart.” If there is fog in the Rhone valley those who take that route may easily have the greatest difficulty in maintaining the average of 35 m.p.h., and in that case the Rally might well be won by some semi-racing car starting from John o’ Groats.
At the Motor Show I met Jean Trevoux, winner of the Rally from Athens two years ago. He intends to chance his arm again from Athens, driving a Hotchkiss. H. E. Symons is another of the Athenians and will pilot one of the new big Wolseleys.
While Rally enthusiasts (unkind friends call them Ralletomaniacs) are thinking of dicing with death on ice and snow, the South African Grand Prix will be taking place in blazing sunshine at East London, Natal. Wimille talked of going out there on the Bugratti, Chiron has been asked, and of British drivers Lord Howe, Shuttleworth, C. E. C. Martin and Richard
Seaman, have all been approached. The starting money is about £250 but South Africa is a long way away. Fairfield has decided to take part on his 1,100 c.c. E.R.A. and being a South African himself should get a specially good reception.
Shuttleworth plans taking his 3-litre Alfa, and combining business with pleasure by flying out there and delivering an aeroplane to a client. On the way he intends visiting a friend in Aden, and is fitting enormous petrol tanks to avoid having to land in Eritrea or Abyssinia.
Super stop press is that Lord Howe and VVimille are both competing. In addition to his 3.3-litre Bugatti Lord Howe is taking his 11-litre Delage, just in case the handicap is too overpowering for the bigger car.
Knocking Them Down
In spite of criticisms that Brooklands is out of date and unsafe the lap and mountain records continue to be broken. Bertram, on the Hassan Special, has proved a worthy rival for John Cobb, but the Napier-Railton recovered the laurels last month when Cobb raised the record lap to 143.44 m.p.h. Bertram is going to try again, but anyone who has watched the Hassan at the Fork must feel that the limit for this astonishing 8-litre car has nearly been reached.
On the Mountain Raymond Mays has given another demonstration of the qualities of the 2-litre E.R.A. by lapping in 51.82 seconds, a speed of 81.28 m.p.h. Whitney Straight’s record on the 3-litre Maserati was 52 seconds dead. The 11-litre record has suffered a series of assaults. First ” Bira ” (E.R.A.) took it at 54.74 seconds, then Cormack with the Alta brought it down to 54.61 m.p.h. and now as we go to press comes the news that Mrs. K. Petre has captured on Raymond Mays’ old White Riley, a much heavier car than the other two, with a speed of 77.87 m.p.h. (54.02 seconds). A. F. P. Fane is now planning to attack it with a single-seater Frazer-Nash.
Fin de Saison
With the racing season just ended, drivers are all already making their plans for next year. I have been hearing of quite a number of interesting cars for sale, amongst them some of the M.G.s from the Bellevue stable. The famous Magic Magnette is on the market again, and also a Monoposto Q-type, one or two ” Rs” and two of the Ulster “Ns.” If you like something bigger there is the Hon. Jock Leith’s 2.3-litre single camshaft Bugatti, and also the double camshaft car which C. E. C. Martin drove so swiftly up Shelsley last month.
M.G. Car Club Makes Merry
Always one of the most cheerful of the Club dinners the annual reunion of the M.G. Car Club at the Park Lane Hotel last month was attended by nearly 400 guests. The membership of the Club incidentally is now close on four figures.
Lord Nuffield, the chairman, was full of appreciation for the achievements of their most famous members, Lord Howe, Sir Malcolm Campbell and George Eyston. Continental drivers too were making history on M.G. cars, the best known being perhaps Maillard Brune, winner of this year’s Bol d’Or, Bobby Kohlrausch, 750 c.c. Champion of Germany, and Cecchini, who has been doing great things in Italy. In reliability trials the famous ” Cream Crackers, team, Toulmin, Bastock and McDermid, have been conspicuously successful, whilst among the ladies Miss Doreen Evans has distinguished herself at Shelsley and Brooklands.
After dinner came dancing and a fine cabaret programme, ending up with the inimitable Western Brothers. Altogether a very cheery evening.