MATTERS OF THE MOMENT
Raymond Mays deserves heartiest congratulations for gaining the title of British Hill-Climb Champion for two successive years. The final round of the 1948 contest, fought out in such miserable weather conditions at Prescott, was interesting in the extreme. Of the four remaining contestants, Mays had given a miss to Bo’ness, Poore to Craigantlet, Allard to Shelsley Walsh, and Hutchison to this final climb at Prescott. Although off form, at this last meeting Mays finished third of the championship trio, winning the 1948 title by the narrow margin of one mark from Denis Poore, with Sydney Allard in third place, Kenneth Hutchison fourth: It was a closely contested honour and the majority are delighted that Mays, past-master of careful preparation, has again been proved master in the art of driving his famous E.R.A. up inclined and winding roads. Thus a driver who started his career all those years ago with nowseemingly-tame Hillman and Bugatti cars, adds yet another important laurel to his imposing list of sprint triumphs. This last is an all-British affair, the E.R.A. running on Dunlop tyres held to the road with Luvax-Girling dampers, and its short-stroke, 2-litre, six-cylinder Zoller-blown engine, surely one of our most potent racing units, relying on Lucas ignition.
The final Championship placings were : Mays 38 marks, Poore 37, Allard 35, Hutchison 32. In congratulating Mays, we also wish him the best of luck in the task of regaining the course-records at Prescott, Bouley Bay and Bo’ness, which he will almost certainly undertake next year, possibly at the wheel of a B.R.M.
SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM?
The question, ” What is a sports-car ? ” has long remained unanswerable. Yet it is one to which organisers of future sprint events must find at least a partial answer. If they do not the habit, very noticeable this season, of entering thinlydisguised racing cars in sports-car classes will grow and total entries will dwindle in consequence, for drivers of standard or near-standard cars will tire of meeting what they justifiably consider unfair opposition.
What are organisers to do ? Almost as long as ears have been raced it has been accepted that it is impossible for scrutineers to elimina t e everything except ” true-to-catalogue ” cars. If A.1 regulations are imposed the entry will be a limited one, excellent as these rules are for manufacturer-supported races and tenaciously as the Midland A.C. adheres to them. Indeed, we are against standardisation of rules defining sports-cars in sprint events. Our aversion to standardised rules and, equally, to standardised engine-size classes or groupings, is based On the belief that each organiser should suit his programme to the course he is using and the members or entrants he serves. As we see it, there are three distinct versions of what, for want (and it is a dire want !) of a better designation, we term” sportscars.” There is the standard, or nearly standard, car. There is the modified standard car which, however, will still run on pump fuel, use (and not abuse) normal plugs, does not upset the ears of sensitive policemen, and which is moderately, if not completely, happy in Oxford Street. Finally, there is the racing car with
road-equipment “hung on. You cannot define by appearance alone. We well recall visiting the old Aston-Martin Company at Feltham after an Ulster T.T. race. There stood the successful team-ears, looking as wicked as any “racers.” It was admitted to us that these were not catalogue models. But it was also explained that extra urge had been instilled without the accompaniment of unfortunate vices. We drove one of the cars in traffic on pump fuel (it was reasonable stuff in those days) and it ran flexibly in top gear, accelerated cleanly, didn’t oil plugs and didn’t annoy policemen. It was, we felt, a permissible sports-car.
At present we have road-equipped G.P. cars like the Bugattis of Clarke, Whincop, Oliver and others, ” specials ” like the J.B.M., the Price, and the special Allards of Imhof, Mansell and Leslie Allard, which, with other obvious cars, cause comment by being “border-line cases.” Finch’s Amilear has been criticised, but years ago the makers listed the plain-bearing Sixes as road-equipped cars and they ran in the T.T. and other sportscar races. On the other hand, on the owner’s own admission (MoToa SPORT, May 1948, p.. 150), he uses special con.-rods, raising the r.p.m. limit from 5,500 to 8,000 r.p.m.
The subject, in all conscience, is a complex one. Humbly we suggest a possible solution. Merely, that pump fuel be insisted on for all sports-car categories, and that a car entered in sportscar classes be ineligible for racing-car categories. These simple stipulations, together with such subsidiary sports-car definitions as individual organisers wished to impose, might well “clear the air.” ” Pool ” isn’t kind to a racing-car’s internals, while at meetings where racing cars can win better prizes than sportscars, deliberate conversion from racing to so-called road trim would lose some of its guile. No longer would thinly-disguised racing-cars add insult to injury by competing against genuine sports-cars and a little later proving well-suited to the racing-car categories. If a few keen entrants of the slower cars lost additional runs in consequence, would this be very, serious ? Incidentally, the J.C.C., in its wisdom, insisted.. on ” Pool ” for Goodwood’s sports-car events. BRITISH CLASS RECORDS
Yet again Lt.-Col. ” Goldie ” Gardner has achieved what he set out to do. Taking his special car, comprising his all-enclosed record-breaker with an experimental unsuperehargcd 2-litre twin o.h.c. Jaguar four-cylinder cwrine installed—the car now known as the Gardner-Special—to Ostend, he wrested the flying kilometre, mile and 5-kilo International Class B records from Mrs. Stewart’s supercharged f.W.d. 1)erby-Miller, the new speeds, 176.69, 173.68 and 170.52 m.p.h., respectively, being an improvement of over 30 m.p.h. in the case of the 5-kilo record. For an unsupercharged car this is an epic performance. It is an all-British effort, for, apart from Gardner and his car, at the risk of being accused of repetition, we would emphasise that Dunlop tyres, a Lucas vertical magneto, Ferodo brake and clutch linings, and Lodge plugs enabled these records to be made. With this car, variously engined, Lt.-Col. Gardner has broken the three records named in 50 per cent. of the recognised International record categories. A fine show !