THE EDITOR LOOKS AT AMERICAN RACING
IDO not as a rule take much notice of American racing, not because I despise it but because I find it too complex to comprehend easily. In the first place, it requires knowledge of a epodel language to understand it. For where else but in the U.S.A. do they Speak of “crewmen,” “second spot,” “a driver pitting” (i.e., coming into his pit), “rookies ” (inexperienced drivers), ” lidlifter,” ” drag strips,” ponderous bruisers.” ” souping dept.,” ” hot-reds,” “jalopy ” and the rest of it ? Moreover, American Wes are complicated in form, what with AAA Stock Car races, NASCAR Grand Nationals, Midwest Sprints, MRA Roadster races, Eastern Midgets, Midwest Midgets, Championship car races, Big Car races, etc.. etc. So I normally take notiee only of the classic Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the important Fan-American sports-car road race. All the other staff is excellent racing, but special to the Stars and Stripes, although on the way to Le Mann 1 noticed lurid posters which indicated that those rernarkable-stockcar races, in which you remove the glass from a rusty closed jalopy, strap yourself into your seat, and hump and bore your way through the Smashes and pile-ups which are part and parcel of this sport, are spreading to Europe. It can be said of this form of auto racing that as well as being exciting for the more east-iron spectators it is inexpensive for the participants—instead of bothering about Formula III and 750 and 1,172 Formillae young America has racing for an expenditure of less than £20, racing these stripped pre-1939 jalopies on quarter-mile dirt tracks, such as those sponsored by the San Diego. Racing Association, where, I am given to understand, 1934 V8 Fords with locked rear-ends lap within two seconds of the midgets. And are a good deal less expensive to maintain than horses or women, I’m told Indianapolis is real racing of the highest order, albeit extremely specialised. This year speeds were generally lower than in 1952, William Vukovich winning at 128.74 m.p.h. (0.18 m.p.h. less than Rtittman”s record average last year). Ile drove without relief in the Fuel Injection Special, leading for all save five laps, on a day Of torrid heat which caused many drivers to collapse from heatprostration and one to succumb, although in this case fumes of fire-extinguisher liquid were, I think, a contributory cause, Vukovic’h’s ruee ran as follows :—
First lap : 133.097 m.p.h.
50 miles : 133.06 m.p.h.
48 laps : fuel and change all tyres in 50 sec.
150 miles : 130.71.3 m.p.h.
225 miles : 131.738 tn.p,h.
113 laps : fuel and change all tyres in SQ ACO.
171 laps : fuel and change all tyres in 56 sec. 400 miles (yellow flag had slowed field fru. 6.min. 50 see.):
Won at : 128.74 m.p.h.
In Europe racing is only possible financially because of plentiful starting moody and advertising payments from the fuel, oil and aceesiory firms. hut in the States the prize alone should 5stfliee. Where else. for example, would Vukovich—who hails from California not Moscow—have won over £33,000 in cash as race and lap prize money, the Ford pace car, the Borg-Werner Trophy, the L. Stress Company Trophy, the John Hobbs Trophy, the Robert Bowes Memorial Trophy, the Cummins Engine Company Trophy, the Wynn Oil Conipany’s Rex Mays Memorial Watch (and diamond Stiek pine for each member of. the crew), free meals for a year at the Wheeler Catering Company in Indianapolis, a registered cocker spaniel, a complete Set of tools for himself and his mechanic, and a victory kiss from film star Jane Greer ?
Vtilcovich scents to lie a steady guy. for not only .clid he case up SO laps from tl«i end of the ” $OO.’ saving his car and not trindiling to go for the race record, but in a Speed Age interview he said be had no intention of continuing dirt-track racing bot would return to Indianapolis in 1954. lie led by 200 points for the National Championship after t his year’, 500.” Prize money in lieu of starting money I. y an essential „, Indianapolis. for the advertising value of the race in respect of selling ears is no doubt ;negligibleif I tell you that the first .ears home this year were the Fuel Injection Special, a Spritiglield Welding Clay Smith Speciol. a Bardald Special, a Graneor Pin Special, a Hinkle Special and a Senior Special, would that meal;
anything at all to you in relation to stock American automobiles ?
It may not always be like this, for this year Studebaker and Chrysler had their engines in Indianapolis cars. The StudebakerAgajanian was out beeouse the starter coupling Sheared and pushstarts are barred at the ” brickyard.” and although the ChryslerWelcotts at first lapped at 136.9 m.p.h., they gradually last speed for some unexplained reason, nor did the Chrysler-Belanger ever get going properly. Maybe there is snmething about the V-8 inelinedo.h.V. Chrysler engine which doesn’t like sustained high r.p.m. We who have seen Sydney Allard change back to Cadillac for his snorts/racing Allards and witnessed Briggs Cunningham’s.spectucular retirement at Silveestone read Of this Indianapolis defection and ,arc left wondering. Vet the writing on the bricks suggests more stock engines Reid, year.
Indianapolis, run at a faster average than our old, lamented B.-R.D.C. 500-Mile Hare over a glower track, is nowadays a trentendelta technical problem and one from whieh useful feasting no doubt filter (if through a thick element) to the 1-.5. industry. The main problem is keeidng t yres iiiOM` it -c’. Roger Huntington,
S.A.E., .Speed Age’s talent Technieal ISlir. titakt, the significant point that alth0.3g h the winner’s average speed has increased by only about 2& m.p.h. in the last three years, in 1951 only tic, sets of trres were consumed by the leader, in 1952 three sets, but this year
ukovich needed four-sets, although the final change was, I think, somewhat precautionary. This tyre problem ix haviug amost interesting effect on the design of he ears themselves. I )l1-set transmissions to get a low e. of g. ease the load on t he offside rear tyre through Indianapolis’ 110/120m.p.h. t urns, whorca, a 1,111re-prOpellOr.sbaft Car takes the corners with the nenr-sidc front I yr,. scarcely on the bricks and something liks :.11 II, more weight on the off-side wheels than in the newer
jolis. the ii fr-sidl. 11,11 t .1Hg a terrible load. The use of a beam front aNIc sot the ”o•ries SIll kurtis is another means of combatting a high tyre consumption it was borrowed by Cunningham for the CR 5 Le Nlaits car. Front-whind drive has been killed by tyre wear; the f.w.d. Novi, the oilly front-driver, required siN stops for tyre changes. finishing lith. Firestone have not been slow to meet the problem with a new racing tyre. For the hack wheels II ii 11.1131 to have 8-in, section tyres. will 7.1-in, front tyres. ‘the new Firestone Wes the Berne in. pressure but ha-s an extra tread groove, a wider tread surf., and is constructed of improved high-temperature rubber compounds. The driver rut ii in some quarters this year was thnt lire new tyres eat’s, more drag and kill the top few hundred r.p.m. Firestone countered by saying that their new racing tyre
had reduced wheel in liy SO per cent.. hence lower tachometer readings. It is to be expeelcd that these new Firestones wilt be universal wheel-wear at. Indianapolis in 1951 :mil 110 d001)1 5003 afterwards stock Firestone covers will be better still in consequence. Incidentally, tyre temperatures were running over 300 deg, F. this year and a set of covers lasted about I I o miles until the oil and rubber got bedded into the bricks, reducing spin and permitting Vultavich to do 160 miles on a set. The unblown Meyer-Drake 270 engine came out exceedingly well at Indianapolis. It SAW the light about 1933 and was running tip to 6.000 r.p.m. this year, or at a piston • speed of around 4,500 ft. per minute. This W3S pretty staggering and left blown jobs and /953 Vlis well behind. Yet the only big 1953 mod. to Meyer-Drake was a new forged erankshaft. plaee of a ,•rank machinel. from the solid. Nitro-methane fuel made no real emu Mutt inn to high in vih, of commie, which have drifted over the mill-pond incidentally, ” mill pond ” isn’t far wrong, for is-. I write this the aviation world is thrilled With it crossing by a 11.47 in 1 hr. 11, So moil for Indianapolis, a race I should very rriinhi like to see,
as the sole remaining long-distance track race, W h naturally appeals to tine who has distinct leanings towards 13rooklanda racing of the ‘twenties. Another aspect of American racing is that of amateur-built ” hot rods.” I no longer scoff at hot-roilders’ claims. Their astoutia ing stria-basis projectiles are extremely fast. both tweeleratively and in respeet it ill-out speed, over sliort distances. They go as fast or faster iii 1933 in two souped-up. stroked stock motors as