THE WORLD’S HOUR RECORD A SUMMARY
AFTT4.11, the “World’s Land Speed ” record, over the mile or kilometre, whichever may be the faster, there is little doubt that the ” World’s Hour ” is the most important of records. In fact, it is probably true to say that the ” flour ” has presented greater problems than the shorter sprints, and is consequently of even greater interest than the ultimate speed record. The table appended includes all the ” World’s Hour ” records which have ever been set up and officially recognised by the A. I . A. C.R.
It will be seen that the record began, as was to be expected, with the beginning of Brooklands, the world’s first artificial speedway and the first place where fullscale experiments could be made. The first record was collected by S. F. Edge, in his epic drive soon after the opening of the track, when, with a team of three Napiers, he gave an astonishing display of the reliability of British ears, in the course of which he covered 70 miles in the hour and averaged just under 66 miles an hour for the 24 hours.
The record did not remain to the credit of the Napier for long, as Clifford-Earp, with a Thames car, raised it by 6 m.p.h. later in the season, only to have it taken from him by Napier in 1908. The record returned to Thames in 1909 at a speed of 89 m.p.h., achieved by C. Smith.
Then came a lull until 1912, when the famous designer, Louis Coatalen, took the record to 95.5 m.p.h. with one of his Sunbeam cars. Later in the same year }fernery raised the figure by another 2 m.p.h. with the Lorraine-Dietrich, now owned by Dick Nash. 1913 Saw the first 1.00 miles put into an hour’s run. The car was a four-cylinder Talbot, driven by Percy Lambert, and was remarkable for its small engine capacity. Later in the year the record was further improved Upon, by Jules Goux with a 3.2-litre Peugeot, while the last effort before the Great War saw the record return to a British car, a 3-litre Sunbeam in the hands of the French driver, Jean Chassagne.
Eleven years then elapsed before the record was raised further, for it Was not until 1924 that the famous J. G. Parry Thomas broke the record with his Leyland Eight, with which he raised the figure successively to 109.09 and 110.06 m.p.h. Tyres were one of the problems of the run at this period, as the cars were relatively heavy and there was always the fear that overheating would occur at the sustained high speeds involved, with consequent stripping of the tread. If the tread thickness was reduced to cut down this overheating there was the equally embarrassing risk of the tyre wearing through to the casing before the hour expired. Parry Thomas had full experience of these difficulties, and it is recorded that he once had a fire engine on the track to water a section of the surface in order to cool the tyres as they passed over the wet patch on each lap. In the first of the two record runs in 1924 he actually changed the wheels at about half distance, in a well-rehearsed pit-stop which took only 80 seconds. On
his later runs he fitted Dunlop tyres and made no change. By now the French track at Mon tlhery, south of Paris, was open, and it was obvious that it had advantages over Brooklands for the arduous business of the” Hour.” The new track was perfectly symmetrical and steeper banked than Brooklands. The surface was smoother and a car could be taken more or less mechanically round its *mile lap with less effort and at a more constant speed than was possible at Brooklands, with its unequal bankings to the 2I-mile lap and its awkward unbanked re-entrant curve across the ” Fork.” 1926 saw Ortma,ns, with a 3.3-litre Panhard, raise the record at the new track in three stages to pass the two-miles-a-minute mark. Thomas retook the record, for the last time at Brooklands, with the Leyland, at 121.74
m.p.h., but it was soon regained by E. A. D. Eldridge, with a 2-litre Miller, at 126.5 m.p.h.) running at Montlht:Ty under rainy conditions. Next year saw the record pass to the 8-litre Voisin, which retained it for fiVe years, until (‘apt. G. K T. Eyston appears in the list for the first time, with 11. rim of over 130 miles in the hour with the 8-litre Panhard. This record then fell, in 1933, to Count Czaykowski, who achieved 132.87 m.p.h. with one of the ” 4.9 ” Bugattis. The run was made on the A.V.U.S. track, near Berlin, which consisted of two parallel five mile straights, joined by only moderately banked curves at each end, giving a lap of about 12 miles. This
record represented a very strenuous piece of driving, with runs through the gears twice in each lap instead of the usual clockwork all-out running of Montlhery, and the run was a great credit both to driver and car. Eyston, however, soon regained the record at Montlhery, by a very closely calculated margin, early in 1934, in the 8-litre Panhard, which had a sleeve-valve engine with splash-lubrication. The honour returned to the A.V.II.S.„ however, within a month, as a result of a run by a Supercharged 3.3-litre Auto-Union, driven by Hans Stuck. In 1935 the ” Hour ” record left Europe and the artificial tracks, and passed for the first time into American hands, in the person of Ab. (or Abbott) Jenkins, who was the first. exponent of driving on great 10-mile circular unbanked courses laid out on the salt beds which dry out each summer at Bonneville, 150 miles west of Salt Lake City. 1.tah. Jenkins had set up a number of American records at Bonneville, including amazing and almost unbelievable single-handed 24-hour runs, and the first hour record for which he applied for A.I.A.C.R. recognition was 143 miles in the hour, with a Duesenberg of 7 litres. Later in the year both John Cobb and George Eyston were Bonneville,at with ears powered by twelve-cylinder aeroplane engines, and the record passed first to Cobb, with his Napier-Railton, at 152 m.p.h. Jenkins then reappeared, and with a valiant
effort with his 7-litre engine advanced the speed by 0.03 of a m.p.h., and. finally, at the end of the season, the record was taken by Eyston’s Rolls-Royce engined, front-wheel-drive “Speed of the Wind,” at 1593 m.p.h. The next season saw even more miles crammed into the hour. First Eyston achieved 162, then Cobb did nearly 168, to be followed by Jenkins, who reappeared with a Curtiss 24-litre aero-eng,ined car, named “Mormon Meteor,” and took the record at 171 miles in the hour. Since that date Jenkins, who has the advantage of easy access to the salt beds, has made
two more successful attacks on the record the latest, in 1940, raising the figure to 182.5 m.p.h.
These latest attempts,using aero engines of huge capacity and great reliability, have not had the same grip on the imagination as the earlier attempts, in which the ” Hour ” was a supreme test of both car and driver and was near the limit of endurance for both. To-day the 25-litre car has a considerable reserve at the speed required to break this record and it is common to find it taken in the car’s stride at the beginning of an attack on the 24-hour or other long-distance record.