Rumours—thick and fast.
GREAT excitement is being caused by the rumour that a famous English firm is planning a team of three cars for the International Grand Prix races next year. At one moment you are told that the cars will be 3-litres, and the next person you meet says they will definitely be “three-fives.” Then there is supposed to be a detuned edition on the stocks as a sports car—the fastest in the world. I am not at liberty to spill the beans that I have up my sleeve (pardon the mixed metaphor ! ), but anyway, I can tell you that the firm in question is not entirely lacking in racing experience. Editorial discipline prevents me from saying more.
G. P. Mercedes for sale.
Those of you who have not had the good fortune to see a new Mercedes-Benz in action, nearly had your dream come true in the Five Hundred. A well-known Brooklands driver actually sent a large deposit to Unterturkheim with his order for one of the new cars, delivery to be in time for the race. But it was returned with apologies and regrets, and the information that the Grand Prix cars will be on sale to independent drivers for next season !
The Inevitable Pine-Tree.
Have you ever noticed that pine-trees always seem to be growing in the neighbourhood of motor tracks ? They are a feature of Brooklands scenery on the Members’ Hill, and there are some on the approach to Montlhery. A few grow round the Rheims circuit, and of course lots at Le Mans. Nurburg Ring is lined with them, and you even see them near Monza.
A New Resident. ‘
An important new resident has arrived at Brooklands in the form of Samuel the Squirrel. He lives in the finishing straight pits, and can be seen frequently crossing the track on foraging expedition in the public enclosure. The other day he made several journeys across the concrete while Mountain race practice was going on. Once he began to leap across just as a car was approaching, and Samuel’s acceleration had to be seen to be believed !
In an effort to escape from the maddening crowd of Belfast, team chiefs at Ulster this year showed quite diabolical skill in concealing themselves in little-known parts of County Down, and next year, no doubt, every self-respecting journalist will bring an Autogyro with him for paying calls. The Lagonda team (compere Arthur Fox) and the Chain Gang were quartered at Donaghadee, the former camp being attracted there, I believe, because of the good sea fishing found off-shore, while the Talbots, the Singers and Powys Lybbe’s Alvis were housed in a garage in Bangor. Michael May, who was acting as mechanic to his fellow Alvis owner, was seen wandering about disconsolately, looking for a piece of wood to chock up one of the wheels, the only spare he had not thought of bringing and one apparently rather rare in that particular garage. The ever-popular Bertelli had ensconced his AstonMartins in the hay-loft of a farm on the top of Bradshaw’s Brae, and had painted the cars red to drive away the bad luck they experienced at Le Mans, with most gratifying results, while the M.G.’s lived in another country retreat not far away. I believe that the Alfas camp during their successful invasions of Ulster used to be somewhere
in the neighbourhood, so evidently Bradshaw’s Brae, like Guinness, is good for one.
Moving Hazards and High Speeds.
One of the unnamed heroes (or heroines) of early morning practising was a caterpillar which crawled across the road at the end of the pits, with cars passing at high speed every minute, and finally reached the bank in front of the Grand Stands unscathed. Another creature which played an unofficial part in the practise period was the pigeon which collided with Lord Howe’s car, but the driver made light of the incident, preferring to talk of the races on the Pescara circuit, in which he had taken part the month before. His drive with Rose-Richards in the Targa Abruzza, in which they won the Campari Cup, was a particularly fine effort, as they completed the last few hours with only bottom and top gears.
” Chilometro Lanciato.”
I was much interested in a newspaper cutting which Lord Howe showed me, giving the speeds recorded by various cars over a flying kilometre during the course of the Coppa Acerbo, some of which are given below. The figures speak for themselves, but it is worth recalling that ten years ago the world’s land speed record, which was held by Eldridge on his Fiat, only stood at 145.9 m.p.h. Here are the speeds :
In the under 1,100 c.c. class, Hamilton’s M.G. Magnette was the fastest with 121 m.p.h., while Fourmanek’s 1VIaserati did 118.4.
Moll’s fatal crash occurred just after the flying kilometre. He had come up level with Henne on the Mercedes at the beginning of the stretch and abreast they raced through the measured distance at the indentical recorded speed of 161.2 m.p.h. A hundred yards beyond the second timing station there was a break in the Alfa’s exhaust note, and to the horror of the spectators the back swung round and the car slid sideways into a ditch beside the road. The driver was flung out and killed instantly. It is usually impossible to account for accidents which happen at such terrific speeds, but it was thought that the Alfa had been caught by a puff of wind, and that the driver had been compelled to apply his brakes.
Quite one of the most extraordinary corners on any racing circuit (yes, I include the top corner on our Mountain Circuit! ) is the Karussellkurve on the Nurburg Ring. The inside of this corner is fringed by a wide sloping ditch, and this slope is often used by drivers as a sort of banking. It is just wide enough for the track of a racing car, which must be put right into the” ditch,” so to speak, otherwise the undershield will graze the ridge made by the conjunction of the road and the slope. It is an astonishing sight to see cars hurtling round
in this manner, but it is not always the quickest course. In the German Grand Prix, Caracciola passed Val Stuck at this point by sticking to the road proper.
A man whose motoring tastes will find an echo in many hearts is the Hon. Jock Leith. He surprised a good many people at Lewes recently by his performance on an old 1922 Hispano Suiza, and he also runs a G.P. Sunbeam. I had a talk with him at Brighton after the speed trials, and he told me that 1922 was his favourite vintage. The Hispano is probably Dubonnet’s Targa Florio car. Anyway, the body is similar, but the trouble is that three or four were built. It is a grand car, can still do its 97 m.p.h., and got the better of a Railton Terraplane and an S.S.K. Mercedes Benz at Lewes.
The Sunbeam is a 1922 G.P. car, built for the French Grand Prix at Strasbourg. Leith found it tucked away in a garage, badly burnt and extremely rusty. A tenpound note secured it, and he is now busy getting the old motor into something like its Grand Prix tune. Whether it actually ran at Strasbourg or not is difficult to say. The chassis is stamped NO. 4, so it is possibly a practice car.
When Plans Gang Awry.
That implicit obedience to orders can sometimes have its drawbacks is illustrated by this story of a one-hour record attempt. The driver was told to keep the car at 6,100 r.p.m. and to lift his foot twice on each lap as he came off the banking, in order to let the oil circulate properly. Being an obedient person, he did what he was told. After a quarter of an hour the Boss noticed that the supercharger gland must be letting oil past, judging by the cloud of blue smoke every time the driver eased his foot. At this rate the car would never get through the hour without oiling a plug, and the Boss cursed himself for telling the driver to lift his foot. The only thing was to make him go faster and faster, until he would simply have to omit the foot-lifting. Accordingly the “Go faster” signal was waved to the driver, who responded nobly, but no matter how long the signal was
waved he still did what he was told—and lifted his foot. The rest of the hour was a nightmare to the Boss, but luckily the car kept going and the record was taken —about 3 m.p.h. faster than had been intended !
Next Year’s Ulster.
Returning to more cheerful topics, everyone is asking what form next year’s Tourist Trophy race will take. The three essentials of speed, numbers of entries and wide range of types were certainly secured by this year’s regulations and the R.A.C. will no doubt be tempted to continue them unaltered. A further suggestion I heard, and one that seemed quite reasonable, is that fuel next year shall be confined to that obtainable from the ordinary petrol pumps, that is, leaded petrols, benzol mixtures and alcohol blends.
I wish myself that the bodywork regulations could have remained as they were last year, for the gauze windscreens, the curious pocket handkerchief and gas-pipe hoods, and the racing mudguards bear little relation to the appliances fitted to most sports cars, but without them apparently the general public will not believe that the chassis are standard. A stock car race sounds the obvious alternative, and the same minimum production would ensure that the manufacturer was putting on a really typical and properly finished car. They would certainly learn something about wing supports.
What about blown cars ?
The claim of the supercharged car to run on the Ulster Race will of course come up again, and with the announcement of the supercharged two-litre Triumph,
and the 1i-litre Squire, the organisers will have to think ‘furiously. The M.G. Magnette is the only other fully equipped blown English car on the market yet—the Q-type Midget is so far only produced with a racing body—but some others will probably be joining them in the near future, and if they can run on the standard fuel permitted and are produced in sufficient numbers in proportion with the output of the factory, it is difficult to see why they should be excluded from Britain’s only sports car race.
Nuvolari’s Maserati—and the new Alfas.
Versatility might almost be the watchword of the Maserati works, and when their competitors are hard at work with their ” eights” and their ” sixteens ” the Officine Maserati has jumped back to the four, which put up a fine performance at Monte Carlo early this year, and to the six which Nuvolari drove at Monza.
This machine had a six-cylinder engine with cast-iron cylinders cast in pairs, and had a total capacity of 3,325 c.c. The engine developed 290 h.p. at 5,300 r.p.m. and weighed 311cwt. Outwardly the chassis was like that of the eight-cylinder cars, but a cross-bracing amidships had stiffened it up considerably. If the brakes had not failed owing to the reserve tank being drained for the weighing in, Nuvolari might easily have improved on his fifth place.
Meanwhile, as was forecast in these columns two months ago, work is proceeding on the 16-cylinder 4-litre Alfa-Romeos, which, like their German rivals, have all four wheels independently sprung.
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