If Winter Comes . . .
ALTHOUGH we should really be shaking the moth from our leather waistcoats and getting down to Monte Carlo Rally schedules, that great Grand Prix at Donington is difficult to forget and enthusiasts this autumn seem to weakly disregard the coming winter and to talk happily of the next racing season. Racing under the new Formula will be extremely interesting. New cars are always stimulating and slide-rule operators are going to have a particularly jolly time as facts and rumours of new racing bolides get intermingled these coming months.
Above all, let us hope, pray, beseech Mr. Shields, and even subscribe, that Mercedes-Benz, Auto-Union and, if possible, Alfa and Maserati, and other Continental Formula participants may embark for this happy land again next year and deport themselves at one, other or all of our racing courses. We shall not have a British Grand Prix in our Hyde or Richmond Parks, but we may have another shattering struggle, all complete with ” boot-polish ” and thunder, at Donington. Go to it, Mr. Craner, Sir, please . . . This time E.R.A. should not be so outclassed, my masters, particularly if the 3-litre is in the field. Ideas for popularising racing in this country are many and fertile (fertile, Mr. Printer). I used to incline to the view (rather as a schoolboy inclines to the head master) that our great G.P. (translate : General Public) never, never would understand this motor-racing. Now I believe that, even though they never, never will understand it, they can be made to like it and to roll up in their 5/paying tens of thousands. One big suggestion for the popularising of the Sport over here was made by ” Grande Vitesse ” in the ” Motor ” when he advocated racing on Sundays. Another, which I would put up, is that those racing motorists who wield pens in real Fleet Street offices of real newspapers, which have really astronomical circulations amongst the real G.P., should go flat out when writing their motoring features to get bigger attendances at our big race-meetings. Thank you, all concerned, whose names I do not need to tabulate. You have lost a vast opportunity to earn undying gratitude .in our world, up to now. And remember that attendance at motor-races might be good for a public which is sooner or later going to be plunged into the excitement, movement and technicality of
mechanised warfare. Many survivors of the last war coloured Brooklands history during the early 1920s, so why not, via our newspapers, cultivate warmindedness amongst the civil population before the trouble starts, by imbibing them with ” R “-fumes at race-meetings ? I’m sure Messrs. Bradley, Craner and Edwards will agree.
Much time is occupied over discussion as to whether or no the German racing teams are assisted by the German Government. Although any idea of official National subsidy has recently been denied in the British motoring Press many of us feel that neither team would race on such an elaborate scale, the magnitude of which you will appreciate from our special article last month, purely on their own resources for publicity purposes, and that if no direct subsidy is paid, at all events it seems probable that Herr Hitler makes some very acceptable grants of one sort or another. One little point bearing on this matter is that only very small sums of money are allowed to be brought out of Germany by German citizens, yet the German mechanics apparently had sufficient with which to have a little flutter with the Donington book-makers.
Returning to a consideration of the 1988 outlook, it seems that our racing will take place mainly on Donington, Brooklands, and at the Crystal Palace if all is well with the London circuit. Donington has proved a really fast course, excellent in every way, with ample accommodation for the biggest crowds we are likely to realise, in comfort, given a few modifications to the Derby and District M.C. organisation. That such a small club should have achieved so much is a great credit to all concerned, and Donington deserves all the big road-races next year. But the R.A.C. is still unhappy about the T.T. and, Ireland having said a conclusive “No,” is thinking about the I.O.M.,
where the Light Car Race may, or may not, be run again in 1938. If no fresh course is forthcoming the T.T. may be held over for a few seasons. Personally, if sufficient interest is forthcoming to attract decent entries, we feel that Donington deserves to be the venue again, and it is a very central venue. At all events, Donington should have at least five big fixtures next year and to attend them all even Londonliving enthusiasts will only be called upon to do about thirty hours’ motoring. Brooklands, apart from the fact that it will always be Brooklands—mecca of enthusiasts–should see much activity over the Campbell Trophy circuit, so popular with spectators. We should have at least one big International race over that course, perhaps more than one, apart from which Brooklands is the only suitable course at which to hold the J.C.C. International Trophy Race. The B.R.D.C. will doubtless serve outer-circuit followers with another ” 500 ” and one wonders whether the Light Car Club, which Anthony Curtis volunteered to reorganise, might not profitably hold a light car race, devoid of hazards, round the outside on something like the lines of the classic pre-1925 J.C.C. 200-Mile Races, with moderate entry fees and each man for himself. Only a suggestion. The Campbell Trophy circuit is going to be intensely popular at B.A.R.C. meetings With drivers of all classes of cars, according to popular gossip, and then, of course, there are so many important National lap records waiting to be shattered at Weybridge. Scarborough, it seems, will not be, but it is hoped that the
Palace circuit will be able to re-open. Shelsley will continue as before, with possibility of similar hillclimbs at a new venue at Cheltenham. So without prospect of hordes of new circuits, the 1938 season looks like being an extremely busy and absorbing one.
Cylinder head research has again put the side-valve power-unit on the map, and nowadays very high performance is possible from this class of engine without sacrifice of its traditional qualities of low first cost, compactness, durability and silence. Consequently, interest centres around two outstanding new sports-cars in the s.v. field. The new six-cylinder Railton has an engine rated at 16 h.p. and commanding
a tax of only 15s. It is a Railton in appearance and there is every reason to believe that it lives up to Railton characteristics in respect of combining very fine acceleration with silent, easy functioning. Moreover, it is reputed to be a very economical car, and the striking four-door saloon is priced at 099.
The other very attractive newcomer is the 3-litre Talbot. It is an open secret, as it were, that it has a power-unit developed from that which has endowed the Hillman Eighty—one of the best looking of our bigger cars, combining the practicability of the American with the dignity of a Britisher, in many people’s eyes—with its excellent turn of speed and acceleration. With aluminium head and downdraught carburetter, and pulling a top gear ratio of 4.3 to 1, we should expect this new Talbot to achieve around 90 m.p.h. Yet it should perform excellently at the other end of the speed range, assisted by automatic mixture and ignition governors. Two very welcome newcomers.
During a recent conversation with S. H. Allard I learned that Guy Warburton has acquired the original Allard-Special which has been restored after its plunge over Ben Nevis, an adventure that landed Allard and his famous car in the newspages of the daily Press. I do not know whether Warburton will eventually pension off his lusty 30/98 Vauxhall, but Allard is building himself another Ford V8 Special, having driven the original motor, subject of much experiment, in his last trial on October 30th—the Experts. While at the Allard Motors garage I saw another Allard-Special, built for Mr. Gilson, who has driven it in five trials to date, netting best performance in three and important awards in the other two, though he had not previously driven big trials motors.
His car looked so impeccable that it might well have come straight back from a position in the Albert Hall, until I reflected that Allard was not able to exhibit his cars at the Ford Show. The mounting of a fire-extinguisher vertically on the slab-type rear fuel tank is very effective. These Allard-Specials are very interesting, combining appearance and dependability of the moderns with something of the oldtime starkness of the ” pur-sang,” and possessing powers of acceleration quite out of the ordinary and a maximum of well over 90 m.p.h. in road-trim. I lapped Brooklands in Mr. Gilson’s car at over 85 m.p.h. before it was completely run in, and Allard’s motor, of course, exceeds 100 m.p.h. in racing-strip, sufficient to tease quite a few racing-cars.
Coming upon South Harting village in the course of a search for trials hills last month revived memories of former speed-trial days, when public roads were temporarily closed by marshals and real speed hillclimbs held thereon. After a chat with various locals who remembered the days when Raymond Mays, Humphrey Cook, J. A. Joyce, Miss Ivy Cummings and Capt. ” Archie ” Nash used to figure large in local gossip, I negotiated the square, overflowing with the properties of a coming fun fair, and climbed the famous bill, which winds up from the Church, forking left half-way up, a second gear climb for the
Austin Seven I was driving. The road is tarmac to-day, formerly it was loose, but it is reminiscent of a very exciting Shelsley-Walsh, beside which most of our present day speed hill-climb venues seem chronically “circus-like.” At the summit the road is joined by a chalk lane used in present-day trials and nearby is a drive in private grounds that might make a first-class speed-trial venue if permission could be obtained. Visiting former classic speed-trial sites is an enthralling way of combining runs through pleasant scenery with a little motoring interest, if you have imagination enough to visualise bow these quiet villages were transformed when “the racers” settled there, to compete on hills long and wide enough to encourage real speed and driving-skill. Happy days !
Two Important Events
Regulations are now out for the 1938 Monte Carlo Rally and the next Le Mans race. In the Rally open cars are now barred, as are superchargers, which is a praiseworthy attempt to eliminate freak motors and as such is a step in the right direction, for the great winter run was always intended to encourage touringcar development. Two-seaters run in the small class, four-seaters in the over 1,500 c.c. section, and genuine drop-head coupes are permissible. Athens now has 500 points, Bucharest 498, Tallinn 497, Stavanger 497, Palermo 497, Lrmea 496, and John o’Groat’s 496—so British competitors have every reason to feel pleased with the outlook. From Grenoble to Monaco there are to be four sections over which an average of not less than 50 and not more than 60 k.p.h. must be maintained and the final test has been sensibly modified to obviate as far as possible trick driving tactics and freak equipment. Frames and cylinder heads only will be sealed. Only production cars are eligible, of which twenty-nine chassis much have been produced prior to November 1st, 1937, which will hit some people over here. Seven-seater cars and motor coaches are not eligible. The entry fees are 1,250 francs for large cars, 1,000 francs for small cars, of which 650 and 500 francs respectively will be returnable to non-starters. The 1938 Rally looks like being a really useful event and certainly it will be as great an adventure as ever. The cost involved in going from John o’Groat’s is, roughly, about 1,150 to £200, and the prizes are substantial. Entries close on Dec
ember 24th. Competitors arrive on January 29th.
For the classic Le Mans race next year there will be a new cup which can be won on formula without haying to qualify in a previous race, in addition to the existing Rudge Cup for which 1938 competitors had to qualify to run, this year. The minimum distance handicap has been revived, all classes being stiffened up, except that for 750 c.c. cars, which have 7 kilometres less to achieve than formerly. Supercharged cars are slightly more heavily handicapped. As before, the race is for sports-type cars and the entry list is now open. It will close by May 1st next, and cars for the new Formula Cup must be nominated by May 20th, together with particulars of the fuel they will use.
The Dirt Outlook
Car dirt-track meetings staged this past season by Car Speedways, Ltd., at Lea Bridge, Brandon, Manchester and Glasgow, had extremely good gates and many lovers of “Doodle Bugging” expect a very fine year during 1938, and Mr. Cecil Kimber has given this branch of the Sport a very nice advertisement recently. However, we believe that new driving talent is desirable to maintain, or to increase, enthusiasm, and quite where it is coming from is obscure, because drivers are expected to provide their own special motors if they do not intend to purchase a Skirrow-Special. The latter costs E,175 and we believe that a good deal of luck would be needed to recover this outlay in the course of a season’s racing under the terms offered to drivers this season. Few people would drive on the cinders merely as a pastime, especially as by so doing they lose their R.A.C. Competition Licence. And existing Cinder-Kings seem to
get laid out rather frequently. So, in congratulating Mr. Baxter, of Car Speedways Ltd., on the progress he has achieved, we would remind him to safeguard against a shortage of dicing-gentry next season.
The S.S. Company announces that the 3i-litre S.S. with which T. H. Wisdom won the First Long Handicap at the closing Brooklands Meeting was standard save for magneto ignition (the battery was not carried) and a compression ratio of 11 to 1, against the standard ratio of 7. to 1. It ran stripped of all equipment, but carried no additional streamlining, and averaged 111.85 m.p.h., lapping at over 117 m.p.h. The standard two-seater costs 445. Racing covers were used on the rear wheels only.
Mr. Cecil Kimber, Managing Director of the M.G. Car Co., Ltd., has announced his opinion that in a few years’ time he expects “Doodle Bug” racing to concenirate all public interest and that it will be far more thrilling to watch than G.P. racing. Well, every man his own opinion . . .
Rumour has it that E.R.A. propose to use 2-litre cars with modified valve-gear and twin Zoller superchargers for the 1938 Formula races.
M. Louis Delage visited this country for the Motor Show and was entertained by University Motors, Ltd. In the course of his speech he mentioned the successes attained by Sir Malcolm Campbell and Lord Howe, with 1i-litre G.P. Delage cars, both of whom were present.
John Cobb’s new car to attack the “fastest ever” record will have a Napier motor (or motors). The attempt may be made at the now famous HeidelbergFrankfurt Autobahn. Hans Stuck is also contemplating an attempt on this record, apart from recordbreaking on the water. And at the time of writing Eyston has got within about 10 m.p.h. of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record during trial-runs at Bonneville with the Rolls-Royce engined “Thunderbolt.” The proposed Scarborough race circuit, to which reference was made last month, has not met with
the approval of the ratepayers and will apparently not be proceeded with. On a postcard vote over 8,000 voted against and only 5,478 in favour.
The total attendance figures for the Motor Show were 241,844, the biggest attendance for nine years and 4,284 more than in 1936. But single-day attendances were not as high as those at Donington on a “big day.”
Forrest Lycett’s 8-litre Bentley ran in the Brighton Speed Trials in the racing-class, and had its front brakes removed. Certain additional modifications will be made to this car by Mr. McKenzie before the 19:38 season. The 4-i-1itre which Lycett drove in the sports class can do a standing Brooklands lap at 97 m.p.h., we hear.
Racing-cars come on the market at this time of year. ” Bira ” is said to have acquired a 1937 works E.R.A. and to have one E.R.A., the Delage and the Delahaye for disposal. There are any amount of Bugattis, a Q-type M.G. Midget, a 2.9-litre monoposto Ferrari Alfa, and Dr. Roth’s 3-litre single-seater Talbot for sale. Bellevue Garage are offering the very attractive, six carburetter single-seater M.G. Magnette at a very reasonable figure, also the M.G. Magic Magnette. Robin Jackson is preparing a very fast and secret Alt
The Bentley-Jackson-Special is a most imposing, outer-circuit car. The transverse magneto protrudes through the bonnet on the off side and the radiator is isolated. The exhaust note is much more businesslike than that of the Barnato-Hassan, which has a truly ” wuffle-wuffle ” tick-over.
At Earl’s Court a rumour was prevalant associating Freddie Dixon with a racing edition of the Opel. Only a rumour ?
The E.R.A. driven by N. G. Wilson, which he hopes to race in the South African race, was formerly the car owned by the late Pat Fairfield.