THE SPORTS-CAR RACES OF 1950 Analysis of the Five Leading European Contests Shows Ferrari to be Invincible and the XK 120 Jaguar to be Convincingly Supreme Amongst British Cars
SPORTS-CAR racing, or more strictly, Production-car racing, is increasing in popularity with hotlt manufacturers and spectators. It seems a good thing to look back on this season’s races while they are still fresh in the memory and endeavour to sort the wheat from the (quiff. To do so. let us consider live main mees of this sort–the Targa Florio, the Milk Miglia, Le Mans, the Silverstone One-Hour and the R.A.C. Tourist Trophy.
TheSe give considerable variety in respect of circuits and durations ?ret attract virtually the same cars, with the proviso that whereas in this country regulations have become standardised and imply practically standard . cars; at Le Mans prototypes. still run, and the regulations governing the Targa Florio And Mille Miglia are hardly as strict as ours. Incidentally, the .T.T. Regulation’s which were published in full on page 500 of last month’s MOTOR SPORT, are representative .of those governing British races of this sort, but, even se, cars eligible for one do not necessarily qualify for all, as witness the Cadillac and Ardun-engined Allards being allowed to run at Silverstone by the B.R.D.C., but not in the T.T. by the R.A.C.
Taking only the general, not the class results, of the aforementioned five leading sports-car races—for when all is said and done. the main object of racing is to cover the course in the shortest possible time—and ignoring the Formula used in the T.T. for the issue reason, what do we find ?
In the Targa Florio British ears were out of fortune. .Cortese had the fueltank collapse While lying second in a ” 1,e Mans ” Frazer-Nash, the CadillacAllard crashed and caught fire, Allard and his Mechanic narrowly escaping, and the D.B. II Aston-Martin fell into a ravine. Wisdom and Hume, however, got their Healey ” Silverstone’ home fourth in their class. In the end Mario and Franco Bornigia won in a 44-litre Alfa-Romeo after racing for nearly 14 hours. Two 2-litre Ferraris driven, respectively, by Ink° Bernabei and Stefano Lamotta followed the AlfaRomeo home, a convincing Italian victory.
A 1,100-c.c. Ermini was very creditably fourth, driven by Seotti, Nicola Musmeei’S Maserati was fifth. Scagliarini’S 1,100-c.c. Abarth sixth, ahead of Hol’s experimental 2 -litre Alfa-Romeo. The Mille Miglia was a Ferrari affair, the experimental 2.3-litre V1-2 cars of Gianniao Marzotto and Dorino Strafini finishing first and second, with Juan Fangio’S short-chas.is Alfa-Romeo coupe with.swing-axle i.r.s. third, after Villoresi’s and Ascari’s 3.3-litre Ferraris had broken their back-axles. Bracco’s 2-litre Ferrari was fourth, Leslie Johnson’s XK 120 Jaguar fifth, Franco Cortese sixth in a ” Le Mans” Frazer-Nash. There were 383 starters in this 1,000-inile but these six places will Suffice for our purpose. The Nash-engined Healey lost its over-drive top gear, Wisdom’s XK 120 Jaguar retired with transmission trouble, Haines’ Jaguar crashed, as did Wood’s
with fatal results to Peter MonkhauSe. Le Mans was a convincing thing for the
Lago-Talbots of the Rosiers pere ci fit and Pierre Mcyrat and Guy Mairesse. The -5.4-litre Cadillac-engined Allard J2 made. an impressive job of this greatest of all sports-car races, coming in third in the hands of Sidi ley Allard and Tom Cole. The, Allard in this guise was allowed to run under the to tot ypc-rule, for at that time few can have been sold. Although the car was allowed to compete at Silverstone on the strength of at least ten having been sold to private owners, presumably through agents in America for the Cadillac engine cannot be obtained. in this country, the R.A.C. would have nothing of this for the T.T. Another ” prototype,” the 8.8-litre Nash-engined Healey, driven by A. P. R. Rolt and Duncan Hamilton, was fourth and D.B. II Aston-Martin saloons, in charge of John Wyer and driven, respectively, by George Abecassis and Lance Macklin and by Reg. Parnell and Charles Bracken bury, were fifth and sixth. The AbecassisMacklin Aston-Martin tied with a tiny French Monopole in winning the Biennial Cup, a great achievement, but not our concern at the moment. Most of you will remember that at Silverstone Ferrari, having convinced the B.R.D.C. that ten lucky private owners are minoring in these cars, ran Alberto Aseari and Serafini in unblown
all-enveloping two-seaters, the former’s with triple downdmught carburetters, the latter’s with one, and ran away from the Jaguars, which were, perhaps, not entered with quite such a ” Grand Prix” efficiency. Peter NValker was third in his XK 120 Jaguar, with Tony Rolt’s sister car fourth. E. J. Newton’s ” Le Maims” Frazer-Nash fifth, Tony Crook’s FrazerNash, of this type, sixth. The T.T., even more freshly in our minds, can be criticised on two Score*. First, no attempt seems to have been Made to attract Continental opposition to the Dundrod .cirenit. and, although this is one way of ensuring headlines about a British Victory in the popular Press, it does detract seriously from the interest and value of the race. That this has to be said of a race so classic as the R.A.C. Tourist Trophy is a sad fact and one of which: the small committee which was elected to promote the first. post-war race of the series cannot feel particularly proud. It may be argued that to include this allBritish T.T. in an analytical survey of the year’s sports-car races is unfair, but it is balanced by the subt le advantages, that the Italians have over us in the Targa Florio and Milk Miglia mint which, to’ a lesser extent, the French have over entrants from other nations on their home ground at Le Mans. The second serious criticism of the T.T. concerns the difficulty that spectators, B.B.C. and
officials alike seemed to have in deciding who was leading, and how the final placings went on Formula, this Formula being borrowed from Lc Mans incidentally. A further criticism that, if manufacturers do nOt wish prospeetive buyers to see their products run for more than three hours, the race should be confined to pre-1039 cars, we cannot allow, for most if not all the entrants had had cars at Le Mans, where they race for 24 hours, and the real reason the Hutatrod T.T. was of only half the duration of former Ulster T.T.s was, we believe, a matter of tryingout the Du rut rt ul organisation before attempting anything too elaborate-, and as it turned out, three hours was ample for most of us!
Perhaps next year the T.T. will revert to its pre-war duration—or the B.A.R.C. might run a Six-Ilour Sports Car Race at Goodwood, thus carrying on one more tradition of the 13r(toklands A.R.C.
tit the absence of Cont inental opposition the XI 120 Jaguars made a meal Of the race, Stirling Moss. Peter Whitehead and Leslie Johnson finishing first, second and third, ahead of Reg. Parnell and George Abeca.ssis in D.B. II Aston-Marlin saloons and F. R. Gerard in a ” Le Mans ” Fraser-Nash. N’Ve are considering the race as a race pure and simple, remember, but, for the sake of the record, here are the full official plaeings on the R.A.C. Formula (figures refer to actual miles covered) :—