A Different Sphere
Feeling considerably out of his depth, the Editor drove to the Demonstration of British Military Vehicles, which the S.M.M.T. and M.O.S. had arranged on September 30th, at the F.V.R.D.E. near Chertacy, as a break from the Commercial Motor Show — rather as, later, the Guild of Motoring Writers provides its Test Day at Goodwood as a change from the Private Car Motor Show.
The event was very well organised, although a grey sky which exuded continual rain did its best to spoil the party. We enjoyed an admirable buffet lunch in the Press tent and, being tax-payers, left with a clear conscience.
The star turn of the afternoon was a demonstration lap of the test track by the first gas-turbine tracked vehicle. This was the initial public appearance of this massive test-bed and after its run the happy designer was seen to shake hands with the Army driver.
Very interesting to a mere motoriat was the demonstration of cross-country vehicles, which climbed two steep humps (which had been thrown up for the occasion by a bulldozer and consequently had no hard bottom to the surface), climbed a 1-in-4 mud lane, and negotiated first an unmade road, then an undulating course and finally a ribbed track. The military drivers handled their vehicles in expert fashion and a first-class technical commentary was given by an Army officer. Only one failure was seen, when an old-type 6 by 4 couldn’t manage the second hump — we were assured it had done so earlier that day, before the rain fell in earnest, and it should be remarked that all vehicles undertook the demonstration fully ballasted, some carrying as much as 20 tons!
Extremely impressive were the Alvis Saracen armoured car and Daimler Ferret Mk. 1 scout car. The full value of supple suspension, as now used for G.P. cars, was admirably demonstrated on the ripple-surface of the last test track. The bouncing of huge tyres was truly formidable, especially on the bogies of vehicles such as the 10-ton Thornycroft, yet we were told that the F.V.R.D.E. requires vehicles to cover 250 or even 500 miles of this sort of punishment before they are passed for Army service.
Very sensibly some older vehicles were put into the demonstration for purposes of comparison, such as the rather slow but sure Ford V8-engined scout car and the war-time Daimler scout car, which is absolutely no match for the new Daimler Ferret.
The Scammell 10-ton recovery tractor was highly spoken of, and got over the very tricky hazards.
Indeed, watching these demonstrations we felt that a trials-special is a very puny cross-country vehicle indeed and quite outdated for storming the unbeaten areas! What the 30/98 Vauxhall in one of the car parks thought about it all we cannot imagine …
The water-proofed electrical equipment was cleverly displayed in tanks containing rare shells and live gold-fish (the names of the shells were quoted on the aquarium) and the lamps lit and horns blew after three days’ continual submersion — just the job for cars on wet winter nights!
Another imposing exhibit was the Jaguar 90-deg. V8 9-litre power unit, with twin o.h.c. to each bank of cylinders, which develops 320 b.h.p. at 3750 r.p.m. in carburetted form, and is reminiscent of two XK engines formed into a vee.
The F.V.R.D.E.’s test track, bridged by an imposing girder-bridge of their own devising, is an elongated oval with banked bends and a lap distance of two miles. We gather that it has been lapped by a C-type Jaguar at over 90 m.p.h. but club secretaries need not bother to apply for a meeting there!
Anyone interested in military vehicles will find the catalogue of the static exhibition a valuable work of reference.
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At the meeting of the C.S.I. in Paris on October 6th the following matters came up: —
1, International Calendar. The following dates were allocated for races in Great Britain: —
April 11th … Goodwood
May 7th … Silverstone
July 16th … British Grand Prix
August 1st … Brands Hatch
August 20th … Oulton Park
September 3rd … Aintree
September 17th … Tourist Trophy
March 8th-12th was approved as the date for the R.A.C. International Rally and May 30th-June 3rd for the Royal Scottish A.C.’s Scottish Rally. [Rumour has it that the British G.P. will be run by the B.A.R.C. at Aintree. — Ed.]
2. World Championship of Drivers. The following events rank in this Championship: the Grands Prix of Argentine, Monaco, Belgium, Holland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
A driver’s five best performances will count for marking and where more than one driver accomplishes the fastest lap, the one point scored will be divided amongst the drivers.
3. Sports-Car Championship. In this Championship the following events rank: 1,000 km. of Buenos Aires, Sebring, Mille Miglia, Le Mans, 1,000 km. of Nurburgring, Tourist Trophy, Targa Florio and Pan-Americana.
As 1955 marks the 50th anniversary of the Targa Florio, it was agreed that Italy should have two races in the Championship as a special exception.
The C.S.I. would not agree to a reduction in the minimum distance for Championship races, this minimum distance remaining at 1,000 kilometres.
In view of the possibility of races being cancelled, it was agreed that points should be scored in half the number of races run, plus one half; i.e., if seven races are run the best performance in four will count.
4. Touring Championship of Europe. The suggestion of the R.A.C. that this should be renamed the “Rally Championship” was not accepted.
The R.A.C.’s suggestion that points should be scored on “general classification” was also not accepted, it being decided that the Championship should he confined to cars in Groups 1 and 2, i.e., Normal Series Production and Grand Touring Cars.
The rallies ranking for the Championship are: Monte Carlo, Sestriere, British, Tulip, Nurburgring, Midnight Sun, Alpine, Adriatic, Liège-Rome-Liège, Viking and Geneva. The best performance in five will count.
5.Reformation of International Sporting Code. It was decided that the actual grading of drivers should be done at a further meeting of the C.S.I. to be held in Monte Carlo on January 25th. The R.A.C. was successful in opposing a suggestion that action in grading drivers should be delayed for another year.
6. Appendix J of the International Sporting Code (Regulations for Touring and Sports Cars). Opposition by the R.A.C. to a complete revision of Appendix J was successful and it was agreed that the present Appendix should merely be modified, leaving five groups of cars as eligible for the International Rallies, the actual groups to be included in any particular rally being at the option of the promoters. Various modifications to Appendix J were approved. These were as follows: —
If the coachwork of a Normal Series Production (i.e., Group 1) car is modified, the car passes into Group 2, i.e., Grand Touring.
(b) If a Group 1 car is modified mechanically, as before it goes into Group 3. i.e., Special Series Production Cars, whether or not the coachwork also has been altered.
In the case of a manufacturer marketing cars of an apparently similar specification but with in fact a difference in performance, only the car with the lowest performance will be accepted in Group 1.
Reboring is permitted in all groups.
A change in the method of attachment of the brake linings is permitted.
A change in the make and type of shock-absorbers is permitted provided the method of operation is not changed, i.e., friction may not replace hydraulic.
A single brake master cylinder may be replaced by a dual cylinder without changing the group of the car.
A 2 per cent. allowance is made in checking weight of all groups.
7. Size of Sports Cars. The proposal of the R.A.C. of Belgium to limit the engine capacity of vehicles in sports-car races will be examined by the C.S.I. at their Monte Carlo meeting. This proposal is supported by Italy and the United States.
8. Starting Monies. The proposal of the R.A.C. of Belgium that starting money should be limited for classic events will also be studied at Monte Carlo. This proposal is not supported by Italy and the announcement was made that France is preparing to spend more in 1955 than ever before on the French Grand Prix.
9. Formula III. At the request of the R.A.C. the C.S.I. rescinded the decision to limit Formula III races to a fuel of petrol or petrol-benzole. The following proposal was accepted: Fuel shall be free provided that the following fuels and components are not used:
Nitro-methane; nitro-propane; hydrogen peroxide; ditertiary butyl peroxide; ethyl nitrate; isopropyl nitrate; amyl nitrate; iso-butyl acetate; oxygen (liquid or compressed); nitrous oxide.
The use of nitro-benzene in quantities exceeding 30 c.c. per litre is also forbidden.
10. Racing Colours. Mexico was allocated gold with a blue stripe.