Just when Europe, and Great Britain in particular, was appreciating the meaning of acceleration by witnessing American Dragsters reaching 200 m.p.h. in a standing-start quarter-mile, and recording times of under 8 sec., the F.I.A. ratified the recognition of short-distance records. Until now the shortest recognised distance for a record attempt has been the kilometre, with the mile as the next shortest, and all recognised acceleration records which are the mean of runs in both directions, to counteract gradient and wind, have been over these distances.
The quarter-mile has now been officially recognised and with it the 500 metres (or half-kilometre), so that a whole spate of new records can now be established in all the various classes, from 350 c.c. to unlimited engine capacity. These being International Class Records, while the best one, irrespective of engine size, will stand as the World Record for these distances.
Quick off the mark (literally) were Porsche, and racing manager von Hanstein took one of the 8-cylinder 2-litre Porsche sports/racing prototypes and established International Class E records for the s.s. quarter-mile and 500 metres. As he was the first to establish records in these new categories, under F.I.A. timing, they naturally count as World Records as well, and will stand until someone runs a Dragster in both directions and sets up: Class A records, for they will almost certainly be the fastest of all. In a Press handout the Porsche Press department have gone to a lot of trouble to explain the differences between World Records and International Class Records, and it is a most praiseworthy effort, more especially as our own R.A.C. (Competitions Department seem unable to understand the differences and certainly will not commit themselves in writing. As a result many British manufacturers who set up International Class Records make exaggerated claims in their advertising that they have taken World Records. To make it all quite clear I will quote from the Porsche Press handout, and while this is not official it is absolutely correct and better than any official description that I have seen. ”
In the automobile sport there is a strict difference between a World Record and an International Class Record. Very often these two definitions are being mixed up and people are speaking of a World Record when, in fact, only an International Class Record has been set up. A World Record is the absolute best time, achieved over a certain distance or a certain time (1 kilometre, 1 hour„ etc.), regardless of cubic capacity of the respective car; in other words it is absolutely the same whether the record has been established by a 500-c.c. or an 8,000-c.c. car. An International Class Record, on the other hand, is the best time a car has achieved in its own class.
They go on to point out that since 1920 Germany has only captured five World Records, all the great speeds achieved by Mercedes-Benz in 1938/39 were only Class Records. The live records in question were all done by cars from the drawing-board of the Porsche family : Rosemeyer’s standing-start records with the Auto-Union over the kilometre and mile, a little-known 3-day record by an early Porsche 1100, and the two new records set up by von Hanstein. This honest approach and clear and concise appreciation by Porsche is first class, for the lay public must have the idea that some British manufacturers hold all the World Records that have ever been established.
Huschke von Hanstein set up his records on the Hockenheim track and while there, he also broke the existing Class E standing-start kilometre record, held by John Cooper.—D. S. J.