THE SPORTS-CAR RACES OF 1951

THE SPORTS-CAR RACES OF 1951

Leading Positions Shared Between Prater-Nash, Jaguar and Ferrari in Analysis of British and Continental Fixtures. Fravr-Nash the Most Consistently Successful

AYEAR ago an attempt was made by Motoa SPORT t.0 -.apply a marking system to the results, on general classification, of the leading sports car races, to determine which was the. outstanding sports/racing car of the year. Highest marks went to Ferrari, whose 2-litre V12 could be considered the car of the year. Runners-tip were Jaguar and, a good way behind, Talbot, or, based on handicap. results, Frazer-Nash and Aston-Martin. Applying the same marking system, i.e., for a win down to 1 point for a sixth place, to the same races this year, hut adding theCircuit of Sicily and the I.O.M. British Empire Trophy Race which this year was for sports ears, the same revealing analysis can be made. The race placiags were :—

Thus, applying our marking system,

Incidentally, for the purpose of this analysis the general classification has been taken for each race, the two B.R.D.C. One-Hour Production Car races being regarded as one. If the Le Mans handicap results are taken instead, Monopole, Dyna.Tanhard, D.B. and Renault receive 6, 5, 2 and 1 mark, respectively, AstonMartin fall from 6 to 3 marks and Jaguar from second place with 32 marks to third place behind Ferrari. With 30 marks. However, it. seems more logical to take general plaeings irrespective of handicap, in looking for the year's leading out-andout sports car, a reasoning strengthened by the fact, that in the I.O.M. and at Dundrod the faster ears heat their handicaps. In the same way, class results based on engine capacity can surely be ignored where production ears are con(Triter!, the only sub-divisions of value to IL prospective purchaser being those of list price, for fuel consumption is Pot likely materially to interest those able to purchase new sports cars. That ears not iii seri?s-production, like the Type C Jaguar and Chrysler,Allard and tie prototype 1)133 Aston-Martin ran in t lose races has to be remembered, and the proviso can be made that had the Type C Jaguar been excluded from the T.T„ Frazer-Nash, which heads the list in any case, would merely have consolidated

its stronghold. The . aim in sports-car racing has always been to permit deVelopmeat of catalogue models, which ranges from strict interpretation of carefully framed rules to the " let anything in with wings and lamps " beloved of Continental organisers. The R.A.C. seemed to waver between these two schools of thought, while at Le Mans prototypes, which have to be developed and could otherwise only run in racing car events where they would be overshadowed and perhaps be in the way, have been permitted since the Hitkrstrife. Another aspect of the present analysis is that brilliantperformances can be overshadowed by occasional entry, witness the great merit of second and fifth positions in the Mile Miglia by the Lancia. Aurelia, which, however, only

places this marque fifth in our list because it didn't figure in many races. Similarly, although 1)132 Aston-Martins did very well as a team at Lc Mans, Kent Karslake referring to their aggregate performance as "perhaps the outstanding feature of the race," they were beset by troubles or insufficient speed in other races and so far have not mate borne out their early promise. We can but hope for great things from the Eberhorst-designed open 1)133 next year.

Out of all this emerges the fact that the 2-litre Frazer-Nash, which has shown so much promise and won such esteem since the war, this year comes. out absOlute " top-dog "; a very creditable performance, especially as these •ears have been owner-entered. W. H. Aldington is .selling them as successfully as he did Frazer-Nash-13.M.W..s before the war, and .soon we shall expect to see him, like the aircraft. maanates. in a nautical cap at the helm of his yacht—or has he one already ? 'elle secret of FraserNasti ltrisl 'ii success seCII1S to be the able replica-ing " of' I tic 13.M.W. engine desian by the pioneer aircraft firm in the West Country, the use of efficient suspension, giving very good roadholding, and the low weight of the car. Its head-resistance is also moderate, especially in the handsome " " auise. These cars may have I VVI breakdowns it times—so have t he it hers---and they appear to overturn rat I Ler easily after hitting obstruct Ind cockpit-error is not the responsibility Of the designer ! They lack luggage space and are phenomenally expensive (over £8,000 in this country for the `.` Le Mans" Model !), but that is what you expect with successful sports/racing cars. But the

2-litre Frazer-Nash-Bristol is certainly the most consistently suceessful sports car of 1951, as Moss in the LO.M., •Gerard at Ditildrod and Corteseby his fine victory in the Tour de Sicily ahead of a "2.8 " Ferrari proved.

Running it. close einnes the Jaguar, in XK120 and Type C forms. The utmost credit is due to William Lyons and to Nick Heynes, " Lofty " England, H. Weslake (and Mr. Lyons' otherrable•aasociates) that this is sO. The XK120 took the competition world by storm. Its good looks,its speed, its acceleration, all belied. its exceedingly modest price, and it was -still sufficiently far ahead to win for Moss at Silverstone this Year. It possessed rather stipple suspension and its east-iron brakes were next to useless when hot., but it proved able to win classic races and, indeed, last year Jaguar, solely by reason of the XK120, came second to the then all-conquering Ferraris in this analysis. High praise, then, should be bestowed on Jaguar for going on from there, instead of resting on well-won laurels. The result is the Type C, a competition car of which Britain is justly proud, a car which, using the same fine engine of its forerunner but further developed, stiffer suspension very cleverly contrived at the rear, better brakes. and a truly wind-defeating body, won the great Le Mans race on its first appearance and which has Since won the T.T. and walked off with the short 13.A.R.C. Sports Car Race, and 11.A.R.C. Sports Car Handicap from scratch. Here is a oar about which there are no " ifs " and " buts." It stands comparison with the best the COntinent can produce in this -specialised lield. Opinions about the appearance of ears differ and, reservedly, from the aesthetic angle, we are apt to applaud the Continental sports/racing ears at the expense Of home products. But where the Type C Jaguar is concerned; our opinion is that it not only goes but looks right, too. Whether or not you judge it. as handsome as the Ferrari is a matter of opinion, but pictures of each accompany this analysis to assist your judgment. We await performance figures and price of this newest Jaguar with extreme impatience—and what would'it do if expanded to, for example, 4i litres ? Ferrari has fallen two places from grace but is still sufficiently successful in -aggregate to reduce all other makes to the rank of " also ram." Villoresi's fine victory, in spite of an arch lent in life arduous )1 il ri in a coupe version of the 4.1-lit re car, was followed up by a first and second in flip also-arduotts Ci rem iii of Sicily with 2.11-litre cars. But the famed 4.1-hire " America and the various other sizes of Ferrari did nothing Outstanding at he Mans or in the T.T., save for sixth place by Baird's " 2.6 " in the latter race. Incidentally, all three leaders in this analysis use the classic

half-hemisphere cylinder head originated for racing by M. Henry, adopted in America post-war by Miller and used by Et tore Bugatti for all his later successrid ming and sports-car engines. Jaguar retains, too, the classic twin-o.h.c. valve actuation, but Fraser-Nash uses the Modern disposition of push-mds and rockers, Ferrari a single camshaft above each cyinder block. It is startling how Makes previously prominent have fallen right back. AlfaRennet) have been no mare successful in sports-car raving than they are now in G.P. racing. The Allard is still a factor in American sports-car racing, but in the U.S.A. " hot-rodding " Is an art, FraserNashes scarce, and Type C jaguar,; far unknown. The Allard has been out of the picture at home and in Europe. The " J2 " showed great premise when endowed with Ardun-Ford and Cadillac oit.v. engines but maybe there is a limit to the power with which a chassis made from Ford components • cat, cope in long-distance races, or perhaps the Clapham firm has been merely unlucky. The feet remains that even the Chryslerengined Allard did not pull out its expected speed in the T.T. and, Onetime or another, engine, transmission, brakes and road holding of the " " have been suspect. We are sorry about this, for Sydney is a great enthusiast and a hard trier. It would have been nice to have tested a,

.12 " when it was in its exeit•ing prime, along with In NK120, 1)112, " Silverstone " Ifealey, " " M.G. and Jupiter, but repeated aoldieations failed to prise one from the Allard tot tpany and now this car appears to be on the wane. TI La 51-litre Chrysler car did, however, keep some Frazer-Noshes and XI: 120s n ir y at bay during a short race at Ca:tle Combe. Healey is another make which Ire, dropped back, chiefly because the " Silverstone " has been abandoned for an Anwricanised automobile ; but it wasn't. overlooked that a lone Nash-Healey .saloon was driven most effectively into sixth place by Rolt at Le Mans, although

in the I.O.M. Parnell couldn't find its gears. A Nash-Healey would apparently have run in the T.T. had Donald Healey not received from the R.A.C. a letter emphasising that this race was for ears of which at least ten had been constructed for sale before August 27th, 1951, and that the Club was anxious that disguised racing ears and prototypes should not enter. So Donald withheld his entry, although some eight prototype vehicles were subsequently admitted ! .Lago-Talbot retains its place in our 'affections by netting second and fourth places at Le Mans, its loss our gain as it were, for it was soundly defeated by the

" brand-new " K 120C Jaguar, albeit with a loss of two of these British cars.

Aston-Mart in, as we have said, although usually dominating the 3-litre class, has been somewhat out of luck, was beaten by Ferrari in the T.T., and has on occasion retired with transmission trouble, a cause rather embarrassing surely for the oldestablished gear-emitting firm which sponsors today's A.M. ? The threatened Cunningham onslaught at Le Mans failed to materialise ; is perhaps postponed ? Jupiter began to find reliability only for the Ti'., in which, as at Le Mans, they won the 1§-litre class, but at comparatively low speeds, failing to better their handicap in the latter. The Lester111.G.s have yet to find this essential quality and the " TD " M.G.s, even in Stage II form, are hardly fast enough to come into the lirst .six on general classification.

Summing up, the Frazer-Nash has been the most. consistently successful sports car in spite of having a swept. volume of only 1,991 c.c., with the well-established Jaguar and Ferrari running the smaller car close, all three maintaining their high posit ions. This year the national marks become :Britain 84, Italy 55, France 8..—so we can hold our heads high where sports/racing cars of high performance are con