RUMBLINGS, October 1935
Sir Malcolm’s record breaking attempt on ” Bluebird” took place during T.T. week, and we all followed with considerable bewilderment the various figures which came through from America, first the disappointing 299 and then the much hoped-for 300 m.p.h. As more evidence came to be available, it became painfully obvious that the American time-keepers employed on the job just did not know how to subtract.
The two sets of figures obtained on one run were 49 minutes 50.92 seconds and 50 minutes 3.00 seconds and the officials made the difference 12.18 seconds instead of 12.08 seconds. Not content with that, to obtain the average speed of the two runs they took the mean of the two speeds instead of the two times. I can imagine ” Ebby ” blushing with shame for the incompetence of his opposite numbers. However, it all came right in the end.
The Perfect Record-breaking Venue
Charlie Dodson, who was, of course, one of the crew of Cobb’s car in the record-breaking run on the Salt Lake, was back from Salt Lake in time to drive in the Ulster race, and told me something of the conditions. The air is tremendously hot, and the drivers
had to protect their faces from the sun and the glare from the salt just as one has to do when out ski-ing.
The white surface has one advantage which is that it reflects the rays of the sun instead of absorbing them, and the ground temperature is never more than 65 degrees.
The course remained perfect until almost the end of the run, when a large hole developed at one end. Running round a circle of three miles radius, the curve was so slight as hardly to be noticeable, but if the drivers relaxed for a moment they could easily find themselves fifty yards outside the flag-marked circuit. Even with such an easy curve there is a constant strain on the outside front hub, and Jenkins was forced to abandon one of his earlier attempts on the 24-hour record through the collapse of a ballrace. The fact that Eyston got through without trouble on his front-drive car says a great deal for the skill with which it was constructed.
That Number Plate
Do you ever study the number-plates of the cars
you see on the road? Not so much the happy chances such as the ” G.B. 1.935″ which I saw the other day on a Brough Superior car, or even the coveted “A.I.” which I believe is still retained by some West-of-England motorist, but the ” I”s and the ” S “s. Cars bearing the former all belong to Ireland, and ” Z ” is I think also reserved for Ulster. Scotland uses the ” S ” numbers, but no definite plan of allotting numbers is used in England.
There is one instance of a number being confined to the customers of one particular firm : The firm is University Motors, and their ” sign manual ” is of course ” M.G.” which is particularly appropriate just now, as the new 2-litre M.G. is being displayed in their showrooms.
I always like the Swiss number-plates with the shields and the ititial ,letters of the canton to which the car belongs and the same system without the badges prevails in Italy. For superstition in numberplates however you must go to Germany. Caracciola’s number is, 1.A. 5555 and he firmly believes his luck would desert him if he no longer used his old favourite. Burgaller goes a step further and has I.A. 77777.
Once more the U.K.’s only road-race has been run off with success, and as far as I could See there were as many spectators as ever (no, I did not count them) while the enthusiasmof the people in authority and the small-boy autograph hunters, who belong to a specially virile sub-species only found in Northern Ireland, shows no signs of diminishing. The only cloud in the future of the race is that there may come a time when the R.A.C. can no longer rely on the generosity of private persons to provide the prize fund, but there is little doubt, that the Ulster Government will come forward to provide a subsidy, as their neighbours in the Isle of Man already do for the Motor Cycle T.T.
A Fine Touring Ground
I’ve always wanted to bring my own car over for the Belfast race, as there are fine straight roads and pleasant scenery within a few miles of the city, and the 30 m.p.h. limit is unknown in those parts. Ever since I saw the photographs of Miss England II booming across the waters of Lough Neagh with a bank of heavy cloud behind, I’d felt a sort of nightmareurge to see the place itself. The day I chose to visit it was just such another as the one on which the trials were held, and coming down to the water’s edge under low thunderclouds, with a low black island outlined against the grey waters, I felt that Don must have been really courageous to make his initial trials on its breast.
How To Test a Car
The course of that very fast motor-cycle race the Ulster Grand Prix, with its five-mile-long Clady
Straight, was only a few miles away. It is often used by drivers who want to check over final adjustments before the car race, and this year Lord Howe utilised it to try out the springing of the Bugatti after a tentative adjustment of the De Rams.
All the side roads were guarded by volunteers, and the car reached 120 m.p.h., which was encouraging for the Saturday’s race. ” I don’t know how those* motor-cycle men can do it ” said his lordship, “the surface was as wavy as a rough sea.”
Two things in Ulster which were new to me. One was being allowed to leave my car all night without lights in the main street. The other was to encounter in the bedroom of one of the principal hotels a small tin of a well-known health-salt ” with the compliments of the management.” An impending apology, as Mr. Punch would say, or possibly ” Commercial Candour? “
Voiture De Serie
One of the complaints about the earlier T.T. races was that many of the sports-cars which took part were in reality quite as experimental and non-standard as any racing-car specifically so called, but the regulations in force during the past two years are supposed to have overcome that. It is laid down that only models produced in sufficient numbers to be considered as part of the standard range shall be eligible, but
a loophole has been left. If a firm can show that it proposes to build cars of the model entered in the T.T. some time in the future, the R.A.C. will accept the entry. Messrs. X are then at liberty to construct a team of special cars, without any of their prototypes having been available to the public.
The remainder of the ” Serie ” have to be produced at a later date of course, but in the event of the racing-cars proving a flop and there being no demand for the remainder of the ” specials,” a large firm can afford to write thezn off as a “Publicity Campaign ” and money well spent.
This has happened in more than one case and no one can blame the firms concerned for making the most of the regulations. But as the general public thinks of the T.T. race as a race for standard production cars, isn’t it time for an event for out-of-theshowroom stock-cars?
An Optical Delusion
A reader takes me to task for saying that Williams won the 1930 French Grand Prix in which Sir Henry Birkin finished second in the four-seater Bentley, and that in any case the cars were stripped and not sports-cars. .He is perfectly right of course. Instead of looking back to the bound volume of MOTOR SPORT for 1930 which stands in front of me, I glanced through some old lists I had made myself. What I actually saw was “1928—Williams-2-litre Bugattisports-car race—Comminges,” but unfortunately linked
RUMBLINGS—continued. this instead with the next entry but two ” 1930— Etancelin-2′-litre Bugatti—racing cars—any capacity
I must have my office spectacles re-bored.
A Run of Mercs
l’m always on the look-out for interesting not-soyoung sports-cars, but for weeks at a time the most interesting antiques I come across are the taxies I take when in a hurry. Last week however there was a nice spate of Mercedes plus or minus Benzes to relieve the monotony.
The first was a :33-180 built in the 1927 era and which as you will remember was a lofty supercharged sports-car, the forerunner of the 36-220 and the 38-250. Nothing remarkable about that, you say, but the owner proposes to cut two or three feet out of the frame and make it into a sort of Shelsley Special. More of that later.
Another car. which cheered me .considerably was an old ” 90 ” Mercedes, date about 1913 and similar to the one written up some years ago in MOTOR SPORT. This one I saw down at Brooklands during the 500 Miles Race. The owner uses it daily and I watched it pass some small saloons on the Great West Road the other day in great style.
Shaft Drive Optional
The best of the bunch was a.” Chitty ” No. 3 of that line, 1,vilich was also being prepared for the road. Purists will object that there were only two real ones which had 22-litre Maybach aero engines fitted into ” 90 ” Mercedes chassis. This one was only a
little less imposing and had a 10-litre aero engine, Maybach also I believe, in a 1910 45 h.p. Mercedes chassis. I was rather surprised to see that it was shaft-driven, but apparently the purchaser had the option in those days of specifying chain-drive or live axle.
Tile car was fitted with a typical Brooklands body, and had been raced there by Flt.-Lt. Noel, but had afterwards been fitted with front-wheel brakes on the old axle and was also used on the road. The tax was a formidable £79. ‘
An Auto-Union Secret ‘
So much has been talked in the past years of the virtues of independent springing in combating wheelspin that most of us had come to think that this was the whole secret of the phenomenal acceleration of the German racing-cars when getting away from corners. There is more in it than that, the answer lies in the special type of differential fitted. With the usual type of differential, as soon as one wheel starts to spin an increased proportion of power is transferred to it until one wheel is screaming round wildly while the one on firm ground makes no attempt to drive. The special type of differential fitted to the Auto-Unions and probably also to the Mercs locks itself solid when one wheel starts to rotate at more than 15 per cent, faster than the other, and so full power is applied to the road-wheels. As may be imagined, the mechanism is not the same as that of
the conventional differential. Cams are employed instead of pinions.