LET US HAVE REAL STANDARD-CAR TRIALS
THIS ARTICLE, WRITTEN BEFORE WAR CAME, SUGGESTS AN INTERESTING APPROACH TO TRIALS’ PROBLEMS THAT WILL PERSIST AGAIN WHEN PEACE IS DECLARED.—Ed.
EVER since the very early days your ordinary motorist who is at all interested in the sporting side of the game, has expressed the wish that cars taking part in competitions could more closely resemble the car he uses everyday on the highways and the byways. The answer of the organiser has invariably been that of flinging his hands to high Iseavn in horror and saying that you just cannot tell whether or not a car is catalogue in all respects. Now this is probably true enough of the racing car, because there is, in this case, every incentive to increase performance by changing. lots of things conveniently hidden from the eye of man. Your most conscientious scrutineer can hardly be expected to know whether valves, camshaft, pistons, connecting-rods, crankshaft and similar important bits conform to catalogue specification or not, particularly as no very clear description of these components is usually set forth in the maker’s literature, anyway, and as, at the smaller meetings, he is expected to scrutineer all the entry within half-an-hour or so of the first race.
Little wonder that races for absolutely standard cars are not part and parcel of the Fixture list. The classic sportscar races allow quite appreciable departures frosts standard for notch the same reason, and also because, with competition between rival manufacturers, there is even more incentive to be quite naughty and pop in a special sort of tappet or buiiip up the compression half a ratio and hope that Mr. Scrutineer will never discover what you have done. So the people whose task it is to organise really important sports-car races, either snake themselves believe that anything with lamps and wings must be a sportscar, to the joy of racing Alfa owners whose cars have been encumbered with road equipment, or else they proclaim that racing standard cars will never help anybody, and proceed to allow quite a lot of licence to entrants, with a snowwhite conscience. That, then is why we do not see sportscars the exact image of those we drive ourselves, battling for honours over classic road-circuits. What I want to ,nquire is Why should the same thing
happen in respect of trials ? Why, oh why !
It is generally accepted that owners of standard touring and sports-type cars slo not enjoy competing in trials against special motors ‘unashamedly flaunting fabric bonnets, strip-sheet wings, rearplaced engines, seats on top of the back axle and a mere apology for bodywork. Lots of owners of very nice sports-cars enter for a few trials, get rather soundly beaten by the specials brigade, and drop out of competition for ever. They are not poor sportsmen, they just not do see any fun in losing every time and they do not want to chop about a smart, serviceable motor-car in order to win. So they stay away, thank you very muds. Possibly I paint the picture too. black. Plenty of good ‘pots ” have been won by standard cars, especially M,G.s. Plenty snore will be won by such
motors. The fact remains that trials entries in general suffer on account of the greater potency of a number of special cars, whose owners sign on the dotted line as soon as the next set of Regulations comes to hand.
I know that several clubs have run standard-car, even saloon car classes in the past, but has anyone been really convinced that only genuine catalogue cars could get in ? The old scheme was to put the touring or standard-sports section of the entry on standard tyres and the remainder on “comps.” That is a thing no one can do any more. So, rather than encourage this rather halfhearted assistance for the ordinary car, I would advocate real standard-car trials. Or, rather, trials for cars as standard as a trials car need be not to go straight away into the ” specials ” catagory. Of course, your hands are already waggling skywards and you are., shouting that it cannot be done . I say that it can be done, if organisers do not shun a fair amount of work. You cannot be sure that an engine is not altered internally ! Well, forget the engine ! Just look to see if it has the catalogue type and quantity of carburetters, the catalogue system of valve actuatioti, ignition and cooling and is not pushed back towards the rear of the car to an obvious extent, and then—forget it. Other details of tuning can play a vital part in speed trials and speed hill-climbs and races, yet not do very snitch to wards winning trials. If you do not believe this, let site remind you that I have recently seen cars that do remarkable things on Brooklands fail miserably on trials hills, and I have been defeated in a powerful Bentley by a little snow which a small, comp-shod trials car would undoubtedly have scorned. The reason is that in modern trials you mostly have to defeat wheelspin and increase of b.h.p. at high revs, increases, not decreases, the possibility and degree of spin. What does decrease it is generally light weight, a low bottom or second gear, and lots of avoirdupois at the back end. Trials ” specials ” are built to this receipt. So these are the things that we must avoid in our proposed Standard-Car Trial. Checking the gearratio will involve jacking up the back axle and doing lots of hard winding on
the starting handle. But how nice to know that all your entry is competing with catalogue ratios, apart from research into starting handle layout ! So far as weight is concerned, you could weigh the complete car, but light wings, set back seats, ballast, and cut-away bodywork if fairly easy to spot with the naked eye. A tape-measure gives yon a check on standard wheelbase anti track. To collect the neccesary data only entails writing for a few catalogues, or buying a bound volume of a good motor journal.
That then, is my suggesticus for a trial that would really appeal to owners of quite-catalogue sports and utility carriages. Don’t say that you would never get entries. More M.G.s are sold to ordinary users than to trialsmen and lots of the cars you see in trials are not in any way non-standard. You can bet that heaps of these owners would welcome ass event in which supercharged, superlight, stripped-chassis contrivances could not net all the best awards–because they would not be allowed to start.
If, after a time, clever folk did begin to get round the scruntineering somehow, I don’t think I should lose much sleep, because at least they should be doing something useful, however naughty, Whereas I cannot see much good resulting from planting big engines festooned with blowers in light, chopped-up chassis having all the avoirdupois in one place, which is what trials’ entrants can do noNv without being naughty at all.
So which organiser is going to face a bit of work, find a tireless scrutineer, and commence to play real Standard-Car Trials.
JOHN COBB’S LAND SPEED RECORD.
Overshadowed by the out-break of war was John Cobb’s new Land Speed Record. Over on the Utah Salt Flats Cobb’f twin Napier-engined, 3-ton, four-wheel drive Railton set the World’s flying mile record to 368.85 m.p.h. and the world’s flying kilometre at 367.74 m.p.h. IIis best run was at 371.59 m.p.h. over the southvvards kilometre and he beat F.yston’s former mile record by 11.35 m.p.h. To John Cobb, and no less to Reid Railton, our heartiest congratulations ! Cobb used Napier engines, Dunlop tyres, K.L.G. plugs, Lucas ignition, Peroclo-lined Lockheed brakes and Dunlop cushions and rubber suspension–proof of the quality of British products which will serve us as faithfully on war-time as on peace time jobs. Incidentally, air brakes, used on the earlier 350 m.p.h. runs, were scrapped for the successful attempt, as has been the case with other land speed record cars. The Railton has two 1959-type Napier ‘‘ Lion ” aero motors of 23.4-litres each. The drive goes to all four wheels and only those at the front are sprung independently. The car has a wheelbase of 13 ft. 6 ins. and the body is removable for wheel changing and engine inspection. The brakes are cooled from the engine water system. Subsequently?, Cobb and this Railton set the world’s 5 kilometre, 10 kilometre, and IO mile flying start records to 292.12, 238.67 and 223.0 m.p.h., respectively. The 5 mile figure was missed due to a defect in the timing apparatus. Sir Malcolm Campbell held the kilo records and Germany Auto
T.Tnion the 10 mile record. Truly, Britain is proud to hold the world’s fastest car record, unofficially the ” land speed record,” at the immense speed of almost 369 m.p.h.