At a recent sprint event a car entered as a sports car had to be transferred to the equivalent racing class because the entrant had overlooked the fact that, while the rules governing sports cars at this meeting were relatively lenient, cars in the sports classes had to be taxed and had to be driven to and from the venue. This car was brought on a trailer and was not taxed. So it may be as well to review, briefly, sports car definitions as they apply to the more important British sprint fixtures. We make no plea for standardisation in this respect at the present time, because a variety helps to maintain interest and entries, but intending sports-car competitors should read the regulations carefully, and spectators should appreciate that a sports car record at one venue may be quite a different thing from the equivalent record at another meeting.
At Elstree, to qualify as a sports car, a car had to be an unsupercharged car “originally built as a sports or touring model and not materially altered.” If engine or chassis had previously won an award in an open speed event in the hands of the present owner, the car was excluded. Further, the car had to be suitable for use on the road and to have been “regularly used on the road,” and hood, lamps, windscreen, battery and spare wheel had to be in place. Only “Pool” fuel was permitted, with an addition of up to 50 per cent. benzole, if desired. To run in the super-sports class all the foregoing had to be observed, save that cars had to be those “originally constructed or subsequently modified for competition use,” the award-winning clause not applying. Supercharged cars were put automatically into the super-sports class. H. R. Godfrey and L. C. McKenzie scrutineered, and quite a lot of transfers took place. The Allards of Canham and Len Parker and the “30/98” Vauxhall of Alan May were the fastest sports cars (all three tied) and Abecassis’s 2-litre Alta was the most rapid super-sports car.
At Prescott, as one would expect of a club catering for Bugatti owners, the sports-car rules are very lenient. A sports car is any car having wings, at least two seats, a dynamo, a self-starter where this was a catalogue fitting, battery, spare wheel and windscreen. Such cars, to be eligible, must be taxed and have been driven to and from the hill under their own power. Sports cars are subdivided into supercharged and unsupercharged, apart from the usual capacity classifications. Before the world war the unblown sports-car record was Allard’s, at 51.33 sec., and the fastest blown-sports car was Bagratouni’s “2.6” Alfa-Romeo, in 52.11 sec. Since the war no one has officially bettered the Allard effort, although Heath’s Alta clocked 51.30 sec. at the closed meeting, the nearest being 53.45 sec., by Claridge’s Frazer-Nash. James’s “2.3” Alfa-Romeo, however, has set the supercharged sports-car record to 51.60 sec.
At Shelsley Walsh there are actually no sports classes, but cars attempting to make best sports-car time (which carried a prize of £5 and the M.A.C. Challenge Trophy at the last climb, against £10 and Silver Cup at each Prescott meeting) must comply with the 1939 T.T. regulations. These specify a minimum weight and wheelbase in relation to engine size, full road equipment and pump fuel, and blowers are barred. The record is held by Connell (Darracq) in 43.76 sec., and Johnson, with the same car, did 47.44 sec. this year.
At Gransden a sports car was deemed to be a car originally built as a sports or touring model, but alterations were overlooked. However, such cars had to be suitable for and regularly used on the road, and had to carry hood, lamps, windscreen, battery, spare wheel and dynamo in full working order. “Pool,” plus up to 50 per cent. benzole if desired, was specified. McKenzie and Laurie were there to enforce these things. Blown and unblown cars ran together, and fastest. sports car time went to Heath’s s.c. 2-litre Alta.