MATTERS OF THE MOMENT
There is no doubt about it—our first post-war R.A.C. International Grand Prix at the new Silverstone circuit on October 2nd was an immense success, and must be repeated in 1949.
The 31-mi1e course is a very good one, although rather better definement of the corners is called for. The record lap, set by Villoresi’s Maserati at 76.82 m.p.h., we may assume by a car not really very hard pressed, compares favourably with the lap record for Brooklands Campbell Circuit of 77.79 m.p.h., held by Raymond Mays’ E.R.A., although it does not quite approach the Donington lap record of 84.31 m.p.h., admittedly held by the larger German “G.P. cars.
Criticism of Silveratone’s first meeting would be unfair, in view of the very short space of time in which the R.A.C. got everything ready. Indeed, the organisers deserve credit for achieving so much, and, in case the magnitude of their task is incomprehensible, let us remind you that, from the purely physical angle, some 170 tons of straw bales had to be correctly positioned, 250 mark tubs put out, 10 miles of signal wiring laid and 620 marshals briefed for duty. Apart from these Matters, there was the enormous amount of paper-work involved, even to obtaining insurance for the Scuderia Ambrosiana lorry and ensuring that R.A.C. patrols met the Italians and conducted them from docks to circuit. It was certainly a mighty task and Col. Barnes could be excused for getting somewhat harassed at times. Practically everything worked well, although the uprights of the temporary bridge over the course only went. in concrete on the Tuesday before the race, the grandstands were still being completed on the Friday and some of the official offices in the outbuildings of Luffield Abbey Farm were a twine spartan. Some friction seemed to arise between rival posses of marshals, and although it must be assumed that each and every one of ‘them was prepared to work hard in return for a free view, either they were unable to stem the crowd as it invaded the course at the end of the race, large as were their numbers, or they had been ineffectively placed for a rather obvious emergency. It seems, too, that some of the sixty policemen present might have been directed to this vital duty. However, doubtless all that will be put right by next year, when one hopes that better accommodation for drivers will be available at the course—no one seemed very bright when the Italian drivers sought facilities for removing the grime of practice and the stains of victory. Many people philosophically said that the race would be more open since the Alfa-Romeos weren’t coming. But we cannot agree with a contemporary that “there is very little doubt that the reputation of Alfa-Romeo and maybe Italian prestige in general has declined sharply in this country since it became certain that Alfa-Romeo cars would not run.” As Italian cars finished first and second in our race it is hard to see how Italian prestige can have suffered ! True, British drivers have raced in Europe since the war entirely at their own expense, whereas Alfa-Romeo wanted some £2,500 to fly their team to Silverstone. and home again in time for the Monza race on October 17th. But British independents race for sport, Alfa-Romeo as a business proposition. The attendance at Silverstone has been estimated as 100,01141 the WAX. should have taken some
.00,000, against which ,4hould be set the sum asked by AlfaRomeo if we wanted t heir cars to run—and had they run the ” gate ” might have been even bigger. As for the race itself, the warmest congratulations go out to Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari, who brought the latest two
stage, low-chassis 1 Maseratis home first and second, after every appearance of fierce rivalry. In actual fact, we suspect they had a comparatively unhurried drive, Villoresi averaging 72.28 m.p.h. inclusive of two short pit stops. Grey-haired veteran of countless classic races, he won everyone over with his charming smile, and the swarthy, serious Ascari likewise. As some little compensation for this Italian victory in cur first post-war R.A.C. Grand Prix, it is good to find that they relied on Lodge plugs and Ferodo brake linings.
Bob Gerard’s third place was terrific and those who could get anywhere nelr him after the race let him realise it in no uncertain manner. His pit-stop was excellent and he finished 2 min. 3 sec. behind (lie winner. We all want to see him.at the wheel of a faster car. That he heat Rosier’s Ecurie France Talbot Lago Record, which went through non-stop, is truly creditable. The Talbots, expected by many to give the Maseratis a real run for their money, were disappointing ; Comotti retired very early with faulty brakes, Etancelin with an overheating engine, while Louis Chiron complained that his car didn’t handle properly and ‘vent out with gearbox trouble. ” Hint ” did his very best to help his mechanics put right pre-race bothers on his latest-type Maserati, and doubtless this car will do better than 5th place in future contests. Of the other finishers, John Bolster merits commendable mention, finishing MIL three laps ahead of Hampshire, in what is a very aged
The 500-c.,’. National race, ably won hy Rhiando’s Cooper, at 60.68 ni.p.1)., was an epic and proved that the 500 Club Formula cars can provide a spectacle. They need quite a bit of development, however, before they cart essay longer distances or fiercer struggles, and we cannot: resist comparison between the 30 per cent. of finishers in this 50-mile race and the 50, per cent. of finishers in the 1,100-c.c class of the 1921 200 Mile Race (won, incidentally, at 71.54 m.p.h. by a G.N.) when the ears had no ” let up ” in the way of corners.
Now that Silverstone and Goodwood are established we in this country can breathe more freely than we have been able to do at any time during the last nine years and, anticipate excellent racing next season. We look forward to another British Grand Prix in 1949, and perhaps the T.T. as well—politicians permitting.
THE EARLS COURT EXHIBITION
By the time these words are read, foreign buyers from across the seas will be in this country for our first post-war Motor Show. In spite of the hard times through which we are passing, we feel that at this Exhibition our visitors will get good value. There are 45 car exhibitors, 21 exhibitors in the coachwork section, 251 in the accessories and components section, 75 in the equipment section, 46 in the motor-boat section and 18 in the caravan and trailer division. Many entirely new models will be on view for the first time
and ultra high performance of especial interest to MOTOR SPORT readers will be offered on many stands, notably by Aston-Martin, Bentley, Bristol, Frazer-Nash, Healey, Lea-Francis, Jaguar, etc. It will be apparent that the British car has undergone a major change in outline, appearing in an entirely new sleek style reminiscent of the American car of ten years ago. In the case of the Healey—one of the fastest British production cars ever tested by the Motoring Press—a real aerodynamic approach has been made to the problem of high speed from an engine of modest size, but in most cases the new stylings are more a matter of general neatness of outline, as opposed to true streamlining. The Jowett ” Javelin ” is about the cleanest of these new-look cars, but this latest British trend is also well portrayed by Austin A90, Standard Vanguard, Singer, Hillman Minx, Vauxhall, Frazer-Nash and many others. It is not easy to define subtle differences in the degree of ” cleanness ” between such cars, but the general trend is plainly evident. In some cases less drastic streamstyling has been adopted, although often it is a case of retaining vertical instead of horizontal lines for the frontal aspect, with no perceptible lessening of the “airflow “motif.
In other cars the ” old-look ” has been retained to a greater or lesser degree, although forward-set radiators predominate and inbuilt headlamps are rapidly becoming universal. A few cars, however, bear close resemblance (notably the new Mark V Jaguar) to our earlier conception of the motor car It is a matter of choosing a style to suit one’s taste, and if not many modernistic cars defeat air resistance sufficiently to reduce fuel consumption or increase speed, certainly they are easy to clean, likely to be free from wind roar and are easy on many pairs of eyes.
Technically the Show has nothing of which to be ashamed. Independent front suspension is almost universal, although those who preach rapid wear from multiples of moving parts and maintain that good results can be obtained with leaf springs and rigid axles, correctly applied, will note that A.C., Alvis, Sunbeam-Talbot, and certain models of Ford, Lea-Francis, Singer, M.G., and Wolseley retain this older form of suspension. On the other hand, Jaguar, Hillman and Morris have but recently introduced i.f.s. systems. Independent rear suspension makes little headway, but will be found on Alfa-Romeo and Lagondaif the rear-seat comfort of the latter car is any criterion, it is likely to be seen more generally in the future.
The four-cylinder engine shows no sign of defeat at the hands of the “six,” but overhead valves have almost vanquished side valves, the latter being found only on Allard, Ford, Hillman and Humber. Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Rover use an efficient form of i.o.e. high-compression head.
One important technical trend is the growing use of twoleading-shoe brakes. For many years braking systems have been beyond reproach and this development ensures that they keep pace with improved performance, so that the high safety factor of the modern car in no way diminishes as engine output and efficiency increase.
These and many other absorbing developments are committed to your personal judgment at the Show which opens to-day at Earls Court. It will remain open until November 6th and on both Saturdays the admission charge is only 2s. 6d.