CATALOGUE MODELS ON PARADE
THE R.A.C. TOURIST TROPHY RACE REVIEWED
To every ordinary driver of cars of spotting type there has undoubtedly come, at some time or other, a desire to see a long-distance race confined to absolutely standard motor-cars. I would, myself, journey far to see such a contest, especially if the regulations specified that wellknown racing drivers would not be allowed to drive, so that the cars would be handled by men Of capabilities no greater that those which you and I possess. In such a case manufacturers would doubtless find the sale of” wheels” a very profitable line. But why waste ink over the idea ? It has been dismissed as impractical by the organisers of every important race since motor-racing began. The Tourist Trophy race prompts such thoughts inasmuch as it does approach quite closely
to the stock-car race. Certainly the rules allow quite a number of modifications from standard, and as these would seem to call for scrutineering every bit as diligent as if absolutely standard cars alone were permitted, one is forced to the conclusion that the modifications are allowed because the R.A.C. feels that either entries would be exceedingly sparse had cars to compete in the form in which you and I use them, or else because they wish to allow some scope for experimentation.
The latter reason has something to commend it, because it has to be admitted that quite a few of the things evolved expressly for the T.T. have subsequently been incorporated in production cars, so that the race can be beneficial particularly to those who note the results and then wait twelve or eighteen months before investing in a new sports-car. Even so, I confess that I find it difficult to understand the object of every permissible modification. Cars have to be run on pump fuels, 6’9 that truly racing compression-ratios are impossible, and the pistons, crankshaft and valve-springs must be essentially similar to those of the production engine, so that drastic internal modifications camiot be made. Why, then, are nonstandard camshafts allowed ? It is understandable that to make the race attractive to those who race primarily to advertise their products renders it desirable to permit raised compression-ratios, stronger valve-springs, larger carburetters, any make and Species of plug, stronger clutch springs, more reliable rear-axle drives, raised steering-ratios and increased wheel lock, and suitable gear-ratios, etc. But why should not standard material of engine and chassis internals he expected to last the race ? And I never have been able to feel tolerant towards detailed dimensions of the seating, though obviously it is desirable to secure uniformity in respect of wing sizes and body crosssections, inasmuch as these matters affect head resistance so that a firm going to great expense to produce racing bodywork would be likely to secure an excessive advantage over its competitors. But the rules detailing seat sizes seem unnecessary and even tend to ridicule regulations aimed at making the cars reasonably standard, as when Sir Henry Birkin was obliged to make costly alterations before the 1928 race, because the back seatsin a standard 41-litre Bentley are 1 ft 6 in. and not 1 ft. 7 in. from the
front Seats. Wings, surely, might be abolished altogether, after the incident of Merz and the Mercedes in 1929, and the fatal Bugatti accident at Le Mans.
But at least, if we know that the cars in the T.T. are not standard catalogue models, at least we know the full extent to which they may be modified. And the rules are strictly enforced, as witness the disqualification of Caracciola’s Mercedes-Benz in 1930, on the grounds that its supercharger was 3 mm. larger than those on the ” 38-250s” formerly seen in this country, and the matter of the Delahaye wings before this year’s race. The regulations have three points to commend them. In the first place, if standard ears are modified, at least they
are usually still reasonable to drive as sports-cars on give-and-take British roads, as test reports in this paper in the past have served to emphasise Some people have the mistaken impression that such docility provides proof that the cars in question are very little altered from standard, an idea the makers usually encourage. Actually this does not always ring true, but at least it follows that an enthusiast—-paying for modifications that may cost /5 or L.,500—can obtaiu identical performance and still possess a car fully usable on the road, whereas cars prepared for racing under ” formuhe-libre ” rules are, quite apart from cost, very frequently of little interest to those who do the major part of their motoring on public roads. The second good point about the T.T rules is the opportunity for experimentation already mentioned, and sports-cars of 1928 compared with tin )SC of the present day certainly show improvements for which the Ulster race has been directly
responsible. Finally, the modifications permitted do allow some idea to be gleaned of what quite standard cars would do under similar circumstances, even if increased performance is not proportional marque for marque. Nor must it be thought that everyone makes full use of all the alterations allowed. Delving into ” Motor Racing” by S. C. H. Davis I find that the l3rooklands Rileys in the 1928 race had modified oil-feed pipes on the connecting-rods, larger fuel tanks, improved shock-;absorbers, different hood-clips, shorter tails and remote control gear levers. Gear-ratios were subject to experiment and ordinary drivers would have been unhappy changing without the clutch. For the 1929 race, however, only lowered gear-ratios, raised compressionratios, modernised brake operation and, on one car only, larger brake-drum, ;Ire mentioned as modifications to cars of this marque. Davis mentions increased radiator capacity, lighter bodywork, special fuel tanks, and, naturally, clip tank-fillers, as specialities of the blown Lea-Francis cars for the 1930 race. So far as these two marques are concerned the alterations were apparently not so very drastic. It is interesting to note that in the very first T.T., run in the I.( ).111 • in 1905 and won by Arrol-Johnson at 33.9 m.p.h., chassis were drilled, bonnets constructed of cardboard and hub-caps discarded, in an effort to get the touring chassis down to the weight imposition of 1,300 to 1,600 lb. The engines were mostly of 34-4-litres of 14-20 h.p. and the fastest car did about 47 m.p.h., all competitors being limited to a fuel consumption not exceeding 25 m.p.g. In 1908 the fuel consumption limit and weight regulations were scrapped and the ” four-inch” ruling introduced, and while the winning Hutton, averaging 50.3 m.p.h. for the difficult course, showed what a limited bore engine could do when persuaded to run at high crankshaft speeds, critics even then were emphasising that competing cars were not really standard models. The T.T. races from 1914-1922 were for true racing-cars and, of course, the present regulations came into force when the series was revived in 1928 over the now-famous Ards circuit. I think the first race well fulfilled the objects outlined above, but from 1929 interest was rather subdued for the ordinary follower of the sport; because cars like the Alfa-Romeos driven by Nuvolari, Varzi, Campari, Mineola, Ramponi and Borzacchini who received the customary telegram from Mussolini, Caracciola’s big Mercedes-Benz and the blower Bentleys which were assembled at Welwyn Garden City, away from the Bentley factory, quite overshadowed the performances of other cars. While it is probable that these big cars were actually nearer to catalogue’specification than some
of the smaller cars, and while they certainly ” made ” the race from the spectacular point of view, they were expensive jobs, costly to maintain, and accordingly of only limited interest to prospective purchasers of new sports-cars, apart from which one could never quite overlook the elaborate thoroughness of their preparation, inviting suspicions that they were essentially racing-cars. But of recent years the T.T has regained its former value, particularly since super charging has been banned. The critics were ready to jump on the R.A.C. for introducing that ruling, but actually, so stagnant has been the development of standard forced-induction for production engines, there are now only half -adozen makes offered in this form, of which only one, the ” Shelsley ” Frazer-Nash, was likely to be entered for the race. And the Aldingtons are not likely to be
worried, for apart from the B.M.W., there are fleet Frazer-Nashes, other than the blown model, well-suited to the Ards circuit. This year Freddie Dixon and Charlie Dodson brought a 1-litre Riley home victorious, Riley’s third T.T. victory, the second in succession, while both the other Rileys finished. Certainly the Riley thoroughly deserved its success. Whether the secret device that Dixon is rumoured to employ on these occasions and which is reputed too simple to patent, comes within the permissible modifications, or whether it escaped the eagle eyes of the scrutineers, or whether the Riley went as well as it did merely on account of its efficient design and firstrate preparation, is more than I can say. But it won the race and further enhanced Riley prestige. One feels that a production edition of the T.T. car would be extremely popular amongst sportsmen, but no doubt they are far too busy at the Coventry factory producing Rileys in the existing range to do anything about it. Certainly, no matter what the teohnicians say about the value of tubulence having now been disproved, the efficiency of the racing Rileys is largely due to their excellent combustion-chamber formation and the clever method of operating inclined overhead valves set at a really, wide angle with none of the complication attendant upon using an overhead camshaft, features beneath every Riley bonnet. The majority of Riley owners are enthusiasts and the marque’s racing successes cannot fail to be beneficial. The Rileys had fourcylinder push-rod o.h.v. engines of 69 x 100 m.m. (1,496 c.c.). Ignition was by magneto, there were two S.U. carburetters, the four-speed gear-boxes had normal engagement, the brakes were Girling, and the suspension by half
elliptic springs. The Sprite chassis, a catalogue model, formed the basis of the T.T. cars, and very light bodywork was fitted.
Eddie Hall’s drive to second place with the 41-litre Bentley was a splendid show. He ran through non-stop at the highest average ever recorded for the race-80,81 m.p.h. When the first Rolls-Bentley was tried by expectant enthusiasts they found it difficult to believe that such unobtrusive running and refinement of control could be allied to that performance and the sporting qualities on which the marque had built up its reputation. But when stop-watches clicked doubts were dispersed, for the new 3i-litre was every bit as fine a performer as the old-school ” 4i.” Even so, Hall’s drives in the T.T. and at Shelsley did much to confirm the pace and durability of the new Bentley, and this year’s run will be of equal value applied to the 41-litre. The Bentley had a six-cylinder engine of 88.9 x 114.3 (4,255 c.c.) with two valves per cylinder in a combustion chamber of unusual formation, operation being by push-rods and
rocking levers. Two S.U. carburetters were used, and coil ignition, the fourspeed gear-box had synchro-mesh for the higher ratios and right-hand control, and suspension was by half-elliptic springs. The brakes, applied by the Bentley mechanical servo mechanism, were improved for long-distance racing. nine brought the 2-litre Frazer-NashB.M.W. home in third place, and, the other cars of the team finishing seventh and ninth, this marque carried off the team award, at the highest average at which this prize has been collectively won. As with the Bentley, the refined qualities of the B.M.W. made some concrete proof desirable of their performance and stamina, which the T.T. result provides in the most conclusive manner possible. The cars were prepared in Germany and their pits,excepting Bira’s’ where Prince Chula, wasincommand, were staffed with Germanmechanics. The changed appearance of these ears led to suggestions that they were not very standard, and it must be emphasised that they were actually the new 2-litre cars which ran so well at Nurburg and in the French Grand Prix, and which will be offered for sale in the usual way in this country. Their six-eylinder 66 x 90 m.m. (1,971 c.c.) engines have o.h. valves operated by a high-placed camshaft, operating one row of valves almost directly and the other row via push-rods. The fuel tank is now in the tail and detail alterations have been made to the independent front suspension. The fourspeed unit gear-box has synchro-mesh, the brakes are Lockheed hydraulic, and the engine has coil ignition and three Solex carburetters. These B.M.W.s were not special editions of the Type 55 but new cars which may be regarded as no more removed from standard than any
other cars in the race. Indeed, it has long been a policy of the Aldingtons to race with absolutely standard jobs, and the three T.T. B.M.W.s carried large wings, full-width screens and running-boards. The Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. has in a short time gained an enthusiastic following amongst British sportsmen and now that it has been proved to possess speed and stamina of Frazer-Nash standard it should have a most successful season next year.
The 414itre Lagonda team finished intact, though missing the team award. Arthur Fox, entrant, and W. O. Bentley, who is reSponsible for recent modifications. have every reason to feel proud of P. G. Fairfield, who finished fourth at 78.49 m.p.h., and of Earl Howe, who was fifth
at 78.40 m.p.h. Actually Briar. Lewis had the fastest car, and he gave the Bentley a fine run for its money, being actually ahead at first, and then haying wretched luck, for a skid into the town hall bent a wheel, and later a mysterious leakage drained both engine sump and reserve oil tank, which played havoc with the big-ends, the big car haying no option but to fill up and tour to finish. Certainly Lagonda’s reputation suffered nothing as a result of the T.T. race. The cars had six-cylinder engines of 88.5 x 120.6 MAIL (4,451 c.c.) with castiron block and head, four-bearing crank shaft, and push-rod o.h. valves. The separate four-speed gear-boxes had svnchro-mesh and right-hand control, the brakes were Girling, the suspension
half-elliptic. Ignition was by magneto. carburetion by double S.15 .s. Before the race it was thought that the Delahayes might well dominate the race at the price of the British cars, but their drivers did not seem to enter very seriously into the task of learning the difficult Ards circuit, and in the race numerous troubles spoilt their showing as a group. But before T. G. Clarke went out with ignition maladies his Delahaye set up a new lap record for the course, irrespective of class, at 84.06 imp h. and Le Begue later raised this to 9 min. 33 secs.-85.52 m.p.h. This betters by 18 sees, the record established in 1932 by Sir Henry Birkin’s
supercharged 2.3-litre stra ight-eight Alfa-Romeo. As the Alfa was a blown car of racing type prepared as thoroughly as a car can be prepared, the Delahaye lap record is a magnificent achievement. These cars appear to have much of oldschool tradition about them, pulling highgear ratios and having really high geared steering, yet they have proved themselves thoroughly up to (late in Performance, and the English agent, Selborne,
!-.hould ,,.ertainly reap the reward of allowing them to run in the T.T. and in the subsequent Grand Prix at Donington.
The six-c x 107 !min. (3,557 c.c.) engines had push-rod o.h. valves, coil ignition, and three Solex carburetters.
the gear-boxes were four-speed with synchro-mesh, the brakes mechanical and the front suspension independent. Both the new 2-litre Aston-Martins retired, but not before Richard Seaman had surprised everyone by leading the race on handicap and appreciably pushing up the 2-litre lap record. Apparently trouble in practice made it necessary for this car to start with new bearings, and the engine seized after twelve fast laps,
thoin.411 it is believed that one oil-pump was out of action, in addition to which it has been said that the stop to refill with oil and fuel had been miscalculated. Seaman’s driving was splendid and his showing will make everyone watch the new Aston-Martin next year, especially as the other 2-litre went out as a result of a skid. But it is difficult to appreciate that these chassis had been built prior to J uly 20th, 1936, in sufficient ,quantity to satisfy the R.A.C. that the type of chassis was a bona fides commercial model. The fact remains that the R.A.C. was satisfied. The 14-litre Aston-Martin was still running at the finish.
In view of the Bugatti showing in 1935 one would have welcomed a team in this year’s race. As it was Embiricos alone carried Ettore’s colours, with a hastily prepared double o.h. camshaft 3.3-litre Type 57, the bodywork for which was completed four days before the race, and as he ran it into Mongin’s Delahaye on the second lap, its potency cannot be assessed. It was indeed fortunate that only the cars were badly injured. Both Singers got through, as did two out of four of the stout little Balilla Fiats, the latter marque winning the 1,100 c.c. class. Turning to how the race results came into being, there is all too little space available. Suffice it to say that though Dixon was a trifle worried about the Riley’s stamina beforehand, the virtually standard Sprite engine behaved faultlessly and won him the p500. Some followers are of the opinion that Hall’s Bentley could have won had it been speeded up earlier in the race, especially as it made no pit-stops, to which some weight is lent by the fact that at 4.30 p.m. Hall was 2 nuns. 9 secs. behind the Riley and by the twentyeighth lap the Bentley was only 1 min. 46 secs. to the bad, the Riley finally winning by 1 min. secs. On the other hand Hall’s average of 80.81 m.p.h. must not be compared with his 80.86 m.p.h. with the 31-litre last year, because the roads were in an appalling state for the major period of this year’s race. The Prazer-Nash-B.M.W.s started warm favourites and did exceedingly well, though time was lost in some exciting
skids. ” Bira ” actually experienced the best refill during the race, his B.M.W. being at the pit for a mere forty seconds.
Perhaps it is as well that space does not permit a discussion of the bearing of the handicap on the results.
As to the lap records, the progress made will be appreciated by a study of the following table. OLD RECORD NEW RECoRD
750 c.c. H. C. Hamilton (supercharged M.G.) 77.2 m.p.h. 1,100 c.c. T. Nuvolari (supercharged M.G.) 81.42 m.p.h.
1*-litre. F. W. Dixon (Riley) 79.44 m.p.h. C. Dodson (Riley) 80.48 m.p.h.
2-litre. W. McCalla (Marendaz) 73.07 m.p.h. A. P. P. Pane (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.) 80.61 m.p.h.
3-litre. Sir Henry Birkin (supercharged Alfa-Romeo) 83.2 m.p.h.
5-litre. Hon. Brian I.ewis (Lagonda) 82.51 m.p.h. Le Begue (Delahaye) 85.52 nt,p.it.
7-litre. It. CaraceloLa (supercharged Mercedes-Benz) 77.81 m.p.h. Unlimited. Sir Henry Birkin (supercharged .Alfa-Roineo)
83.2m.p.h. Le 13egue (unblown Delahaye) 85.52 m.p.h.
Actually,. Seaman’s Aston-Martin in the 2-litre class,. and Lewis’s Lagonda and Hall’s Bentley in the 5-litre class look intermediate lap records, and Pane and ” Bira ” gave to B.M.W. the honour of being the most consistent smasher of old figures. Technically there is not a lot to record, because the cats were essentially akin to the sports models you and I
examined at Olympia. The troubles which beset each marque are detailed below and collectively they read as follows :–crashes four, engine seizure two, blown gasket one, ignition trouble one, broken connecting-rod one, unspecified engine trouble one, broken rear axle one. Not a bad record in a distance of 410 miles over a tricky road course.
Many ears made use of Cleveland Discol fuel to enable the highest compression ratios to be used on pump spirit, but the 2-litre Aston-Martins were said to be losing 10 per cent, maximum power because they could not be run on fiftyfifty mixture, the compression ratios having to be dropped one ratio in consequence. Actually with good cylinder head design and using pump Discol it is now possible to employ compression ratios practically as high as those which would be likely to be employed with racing fuels for a race of this duration. Perhaps a modification of the rule is about due. Hall carried sufficient fuel for the race, but it is questionable whether the gain over a pit stop was not lost by increased difficulties in cornering over wet roads, though in the case of the Bentley perhaps the suspension arrangements were able to cope with this condition to the driver’s satisfaction.
AllB .M. W. $ refuelled, contrary. believe, to preconceived plans, and had the Delaha.ves run as per programme three should have stopped and three run
through non-stop. Naturally the wet helped tyres no end, but that not a single Dunlop needed changing shows how very good modern tyres are, and the same performance must be attributed to the India covers on the Bentley. The T.T. shows up exceptionally well the firm position of the 1-i-litre sports
car as a type, for the average speed for this class has risen from 64 m.p.h. in 1928, to 74 m.p.h. in 1932 and 78 m.p.h.
this year. Contrastingly, the 5-litre class shows 66, 73 and 81 m.p.h. respectively and the figures for the 2-litre class are 50, 73 and 77 m.p.h. Comparison of winning and class speeds year by year is not of great value, inasmuch as the course is now some four miles per hour faster than it was up to six years ago. Mechanics had to ride in the cars until the last three races, cars ran in stripped form in two events of the series, and blowers have been banned since 1934. The bodywork prepared for the race was worth detailed Study and must teach the •toachbuilders much that is of subsequent value. The two-seater body on the Bugatti was built in five days by the Corsica Coach Works. Incidentally, all finishers in the T.T. used Ferodo
brake-linings. Dixon and Hall used Castrol oil. The accident to Chambers’s Riley in which seven spectators were killed and fourteen injured was a most unfortunate happening, and one feels the deepest sympathy for the relatives and friends Of those who lost their lives. One can only hope that so valuable a race as the Tourist Trophy will not be abandoned as a result, and While there is rumour to this effect, one understands that the general feeling towards the organisers is one of sympathy. The details which follow outline the story of the race and we hope that readers will accept this method Of dealing with the 1936 T.T. in lieu of a belated report
THE 1936 T.T. IN DETAIL
1. F. W. Dixon and C. J. 1′. Dodson (1,490 c.c. Riley) 511. 111n. 78.01 m.p.h.
2. E. R. Hall (41-lit ru Bentley) 5h. 12m. 80.81 m.p.h.
3. A. F. P. Fane (2-litre Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.) 5h. 20m. 45s. 77.32 m.p.h.
4. P. G. Fairfield (44-litre Lagonda) 5h, 20in. 58s, 78.49 m.p.h.
6. Lord Howe (41-litre Lagouda) 5h. 21m. 7s. 78.40 m.p.h.
0. P. Maelure (1,496 c.c. Riley) 5h. 211n. 31s. 75.65 m.p.h.
7. “11. lira” (2-litre Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.) 511. 22m. 33s. 76.89 m.p.h.
8. It. Brunet and C, E. C. Martin (3i-litre Delahaye) 5h. 22m. 34s. 78.10 m.p.h.
9. H. J. Aldington (2-litre Prazer-Nash-B.M.W.) 5h. 24ra. 49s. 70.34 m.p.h.
10. Jean Trevoux (1,490 c.c. Riley) 511. 25m. 39s. 74.43 m.p.h.
11. A. W. IC. Von der Beeke (1,408 c.c. Riley) 51t. 20m. 22s. 74.76 m.p.h.
12. C. Paul (1,490 c.c. Riley) 5h. 28m. 89s. 73.52 m.p.h.
13. W. Sullivan (995 c.c. Fiat) 5h. 29m. 50s. 67.10 m.p.h.
14. Hon. Brian Lewis (41-litre Lagonda) 5h. 30m. 458. 76.12 m.p.h.
15. J. D. Barnes (972 c.c. Singer) 5h. 35m. 29s. 65.97 m.p.h.
Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. (2-litre) team : ‘B. Bira,” A. F. P. Pane, H. L Aldington.
Still Running at the End (Did not complete course)
G. Field (Delahaye), 28 laps out of 30. L. Le Begue and N. Mahe (Delahaye), 19 laps. F. Moulthouse and Miss Joan Richmond (14-litre Aston-Martin), .27 laps. Mrs. T. H. Wisdom and Mrs. A. C. Dobson (Plat), 28 laps. It. Eceles and Mrs. R. Eccles (Singer), 28 laps.
Distance : 410 miles-30 laps.
THE NEW LAP RECORDS 2-LITRE CLASS 1. R. Seaman in 10m. 48s.,
1. R. Seaman (Aston-Martin) in 10m. 48s., 75.89 m.p.h. 2. A. F. P. Pane (13.M.W.) in 10m. 38s., 77.0,8
3. Faxte (B.M.W.) In lout. 32s., 77.81 m. p.11. 4. Seaman (Aston-Martin) In 10m. 30s., 78.00
5. Pane and ” Bira (B.M.W.$) equal in tom. 208., 78.55 m.p.h.
6. ” Rita ” (B.M.W.) in 10m. 24s., 78.81 m.p.h.
7. Pane (13.M.W.) in 10m. 21s., 79.18 m.p.h.
8. Pane (B.M.W.) in 10m. 18s., 79.57 m.p.h.
9. Pane (B.M.W.) in 10m. 10s., 80.61 m.p.h. Old Record : W. MeCalla (Marendaz), in I935. at 73.07 m.p.h. (11m. 13s.).
1,500 c.c. CLASS
Old Record : Unsupereharged : Dixon (Rilcy), in 1935, in llan. 19a. at 79.44 m.p.h. Supercharged : W. Sullivan (Lea-Francis), in 1932, in lint. Is, at 74.06 m.p.h.
New Records : 1, Dodson (Riley), lulu.
79.83 m.p.h. 2, Dodson in 10ITI. 12s., 80.35 111.1).11. 3, Dodson again in 10m. us., 80.48 m.p.h.
5-LITRES (COURSE RECORD)
Old Record •. Unsupercharged : Lewis (13ugatti) In 9m. 56s., 82.51 m.p.h. Supercharged : the lute Sir Henry Birkin (Alia-Romeo) in 9m. 51s., 83.20 m.p.h.
New Records : 1, Lewis (Lagonda), 9m. 54s., 82.79 m.p.h. 2, Lewis again, 9m. 61s., 83.20 m.p.h. (equalled also by Hall’s Bentley), 3, Clarke (Delahaye), Om. 45s., 84.06 m.p.h., beating all previous records ever set up. 5,_Le Begue (Dela Itaye) Om 33s., 85.52 m.p.h.