Continental Notes

At the high-speed battle that was the Italian Grand Prix at Monza there were numerous experiments being made with and without aerofoils and nose fins, and the results were most inconclusive. Just before all this a very well produced document was published headed "Aerofoil Report—A study of the aerodynamic characteristics of racing cars fitted with aerofoils". It is a Research Report published by the Jim Clark Foundation, and costs 2 gns. from 113-114, Fleet Street, London, E.C.4, and is the only authoritative document on the subject, being the result of extensive wind-tunnel research at the M.I.R.A. proving grounds at Lindley.

When the aerofoils or "wings" first appeared on racing cars there were no limitations, until the two flexibly mounted and movable ones fell off the works Lotus cars at Barcelona, and a Brabham wing collapsed in front of the F.I.A. representatives. In a hasty fashion all such devices were banned, but designers schemed up ways of getting round the ban, and subsequently fixed-aerofoils of certain dimensions and heights were allowed. While all this was going on the research was being carried out at Lindley and the recent report sums up the situation. If you have a basic knowledge of aerodynamics the report is very readable, but it gives you the feeling that the people carrying out the research are not convinced of the benefits. The main snag seems to be that if you tilt the aerofoil sufficiently steeply to give you a useful down-thrust, the drag it causes is more than the scientific mind is prepared to tolerate. If you reduce the angle and the drag to tolerable proportions the anti-lift or downward thrust you get is hardly worthwhile, which indicates that the Chaparral movable aerofoil was the only worthwhile answer, but the F.I.A. have outlawed this. An interesting fact the report offers is that a car would have to travel backwards at 226 m.p.h. for the aerofoil to cause it to aviate, and even with a bi-plane type arrangement, such as Rindt once tried on a Formula Two Brabham, the car would have to go backwards at 179 m.p.h. The report describes both situations as "very improbable in present".

The Jim Clark Foundation is a benevolent society to honour the name of the great racing driver and its work is to set up investigations on subjects of interest to motor racing and normal motoring, in the interests of everyone's safety. Patrons of the Foundation are all the best people in motor racing and the industry, and the registered office is at 28. Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, 2, in Jim Clark's own Scotland.

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A lot of people are grumbling, and have been all season, because the Cosworth V8 Grand Prix engine is dominating racing. What they should be doing is praising Keith Duckworth and his men at Cosworth Engineering for being so brilliant, and also praising Ford (Great Britain) for being so clever in putting their £100,000 into Duckworth's pocket. They could easily have made a mistake and put it into the pocket of some other engine designer who would have spent all the money and not produced a Grand Prix-winning engine. The present Formula for Grand Prix racing began in 1966 and the Cosworth V8 first appeared in the middle of 1967, when it won the Dutch G.P. on its first time out. Since then it has dominated Grand Prix racing, with other engines winning the odd race here and there, but no-one challenging it seriously. Looking back it is amazing the variety of engines that could not stand the pace and were withdrawn, or who are still trying to beat the Cosworth V8. Honda tried with V12 and V8, Weslake with a V12, B.R.M. with the H16 and the present V12, Repco with a V8, Maserati with a V12, Matra with a V12 and Ferrari with a V12. All were good and interesting engines, and a lot of them were strong challengers, but over the four years of the 3-litre Formula most of them have fallen by the wayside. You cannot say that Cosworth got a monopoly because there was no opposition, or that the opposition was not strong. The Cosworth V8 has got to the top of Grand Prix racing because it drove all its competitors into the ground, and it is a first-class engine.

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While Daimler-Benz were demonstrating their Wankel-engined coupés to the Press at Hockenheim recently, they also introduced a new orthodox V8 engine. Whereas the multi-rotor Wankel unit is for the future, the new 3½-litre V8 engine is in production and powers the 280SE coupé, the 280SE convertible and the 300SEL saloon. This new V8 all-alloy engine has a bore and stroke of 92 x 62.5 mm., giving a capacity of 3,199 c.c. and develops 200 h.p. (DIN) at 5,500 r.p.m. on a 9.5-to-1 compression ratio, basic layout follows the big 6.3-litre V8 engine in as much as each cylinder head carries a single overhead camshaft, driven by a duplex chain, the valves being in-line and operated through followers. It goes without saying that Bosch port-injection is used, and it produces smooth flexible power that makes the coupé, in particular, a very nice car. To illustrate that the Daimler-Benz empire is far-reaching, well beyond the Mercedes-Benz touring cars, there was on display a heavy lorry powered by a V10 (yes, ten!) cylinder diesel engine, of 16-litres capacity, and an experimental diesel-electric City Bus, with electric transmission from storage batteries kept charged by a diesel generating plant. There were some jet-engines for helicopters, for Daimler-Benz know about them as well.

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A very sad happening on the Continental Scene was the death of Willy Mairesse, the fiery little Belgian driver who used to enliven the Grand Prix and sports-car scene a few years ago. Mairesse suffered from a complaint known unofficially as "speed happiness" which caused him to drive incredibly fast and either win or have an accident. Unfortunately he had accidents more times than he won, but he would not give up, and could not curb his enthusiasm. Finally he was forced out of motor racing as no-one would employ him as a driver or lend him cars, and despair set in. The passion to go racing never left him, but racing left him, and while in this state of unhappiness he committed suicide. A sad ending for such a courageous man who often showed more bravery than the rest of his competitors put together.—D. S. J.