That great Grand Prix at Donington is still the foremost topic Of discussion in motor-racing circles, and the arrival of November fog cannot dim memories of that great day at Donington (itself misty, to commence with) when the silver Auto-Unions and Mercedes-Benz .screamed round in the sunshine at prodigious speeds amidst an odour of rubber dust and boot-polish “dope.” Both teams have returned now, and for some reason or other Mercedes never got to Brooklands to see about those records. Seaman gave his demonstration at the Crystal Palace on October 9th, but did not break the lap record, some say because of the twisting nature of the circuit, we believe he did not wish to do
more than demonstrate. After all, at Monaco Caracciola’s Mercedes set a lap record of 66.7 m.p.h. and Von Brauchitsch’s winning Mercedes averaged over 631 m.p.h. for nearly 200 miles of the extremely twisty ” round-the-houses ” circuit . . .
Seaman’s car was subsequently displayed in the very well-lit Mercedes-Benz showrooms in Park Lane, suitably isolated in a roped off enclosure and surrounded by extremely fine enlargements of the photographs taken by George Monkhouse, Of Kodak Ltd., during his five weeks’ tour abroad with the Mercedes team.
Throughout October, also, Rosemeyer’s winning Auto-Union was on show at the Great Portland Street showrooms of Auto-Union Sales, Ltd., although not so nicely displayed, as we mentioned last month, and sometimes even hidden away behind a utility car. Mercedes staged a very fine show of films, including some excellent shots of Continental races, to round off the Donington visitation. As the winning car, naturally the Auto-Union is the topic of topical discussion. Its 6-litre V16 engine is apparently supercharged at about 12 lb. per square inch. The power-weight ratio of the complete car is four to five lb. per h.p. Each cylinder has a swept volume of 375 c.c. and the b.h.p. per litre is around 90. The fuel consumption works out at under 7 lb. per b.h.p. per hour, giving over 5 m.p.g. in the course of the Grand Prix, and alcohol fuel is used to produce power and not to any extent as an inter
nal coolant. The o.h. valves are not inclined in one plane, but are set in a hemispherical-type head, the inlets being on the inside of the cylinder blocks, operated from the single camshaft by rocking-levers, with the exhausts outside, actuated by push-rodsand bellcranks. The Auto-Unions for the new Formula will be rear-engined cars.
The technical head of the Auto-Union team is Herr Robert Eberan von Eberhorst. He takes life lightly, and while waiting to leave Croydon on arrival in this country, amused us by taking a cardboard ” ” sign from a nearby M.G., which he proposed to attach to Rosemeyer’s car when he got to Donington. It is interesting that Auto-Union have stated that racing definitely sells their touring D.K.W., Wanderer and Horeb cars and establishes prestige for themselves
as well as for Germany. This season they have won races in all the English-speaking race-organising countries—South Africa, America, and Great Britain. We can, I think, afford to overlook the weak points in the race organisation, and fortunately they gave rise to no
accidents. Afterwards, at a party at Derby, Lord Howe delivered a speech which pleased the Germans very much, and the German Anthem was duly played. In London, Auto-Union had a little party for Rosemeyer at the showrooms, and at the B.R.D.C. reception at the Hotel Splendide ‘about 130 persons were present, including the German drivers and personnel, Lord Howe, Cobb, Oliver Bertram, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. C. Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Appleton, Mr. and Mrs. Denis Evans, K. D. Evans, Percy Bradley, Mrs. Hall-Smith, Charles Follett, Mr. and Mrs. Couper, Robin Hanson, S. C. H. Davis, F. 0. Crarier, as well as representatives of the German Embassy. The German drivers were well pleased with Donington, but found it rather bumpy. They were especially pleased at the efficiency of our flag marshals and the manner in which our slower cars allowed them room to pass. The Donington layout and surface
came in for high praise. Not so the practice of silly Englishmen who ran across the course in the path of approaching cars . . . Accurate figures for attendance have been difficult to get, but apparently a crowd of between 40,000 and 50,000 attended, and it seemed much larger. Incidentally, the Derby and District M.C. paid out in full to those Germans who had suffered from the welshing of the bookies. The amount of startingmoney paid to the Mercedes and AutoUnion teams has not been disclosed, but rumours have set it at about £500 per car, which would represent L2,000 for Mercedes and 0,500 for Auto-Union. Auto-Union won £425. The gate-money was probably about 00,000, exclusive of car-park revenue. Capt. Phillips of the R.A.C. had the honour of flagging Rosemeyer in. The winning Auto-Union used Shell fuel, Shell oil, Bosch plugs, Bosch magneto, Lockheed brakes and
Continental tyres The Mercedes-Benz cars used Standard fuel, Bosch plugs, Bosch magneto, Lockheed brakes and Continental tyres. Before the race the Germans found their axle ratios too low for Donington and duly altered them. The drama of the race, how much depended on Brauchitsch’s burst front tyre, and on Caracciola feeling his steering to be stiff and not speeding up early enough, seems to have been missed by quite a few close followers. This spectacle of real racing certainly indicated just how popular motor-racing can be in this country. A correspondent in one of the motoring weeklies has suggested racing on Sundays, which “Grande Vitesse elaborated in. “The Motor” of October 5th. It would be a most interesting experiment, allied to real G.P. racing,
which makes ample starting moneys imperative. Those who missed the 1937 Grand Prix have been rendered eager to see the next by the accounts of their friends, and most of these persons only stayed away from this year’s race, one assumes, because of business ties.
Certainly it was a very great day and we are proud to have been present at a race which will live for ever in the annals of the Sport. We only echo everyone’s wish when we hope that the German teams will race here again in 1938.
Still race-goers are talking of the immense acceleration of the German cars, of their astonishing leaps from the bumps before and after Melbourne Corner, of the singing sound of their exhausts that kept up a continuous howl around the circuit, changing to a crash of noise as each car shot past, and of how Brauchitsch’s tyre flew to bits at 170 m.p.h., with bits of tread flung hundreds of feet upwards . . . The British Movitone news-reel of the race was brief, but very stimulating, especially the shot of an Auto-Union driver with both hands at the base of the wheel-rim, fighting his car round a bend, and of the waving blades of grass after the German cars had thundered through right on the road verge. Some doubt seems to exist as to whether the Mercedes-Benz cars had independent rear suspension, in view of the changes that have been made since the cars
were designed. Enquiry at the showrooms, where a car was on view, elicited the information that even then they were uncertain, as the body-cowling disallowed a view of the rear suspension, but the opinion was that the universally-jointed half-shafts still rise and fall independently and that the bars which to some people have suggested a rigid assembly are probably merely torque or stabilising members pinned to the frame.
Herr J. Werlin, managing director of the Mercedes-Benz Company in Germany, presided at the tea-party at the Dorchester on the eve of the race, and went up to Donington and back to London the same evening in his Type 230, and Mr. K. F. Speer, general manager of the English branch of the Company, smoothly handled much of the activities that the team’s visitation involved.