100 m.p.h. again from 750c.c. (Autocar 14/8/1931)

The supercharged single-seater Austin, driven by L. Cushman, breaks four class records - the flying mile and kilometre at more than 100 m.p.h.

The supercharged Austin entering the railway straight on its record run

Record work as a whole has been somewhat quiet this year, but behind the scenes there has been much development going on in the 750 c.c. class in particular, where there is an intense friendly rivalry between the Montlhéry type M.G. Midget and the supercharged Austin. There is the greatest possible interest in the way in which the speeds for this class have been pushed up progressively, the first important increase being when the 500 Miles Race Austin went out after that race last year and took the long records up to twelve hours, that effort being followed almost immediately by the single-seater taking the short records, putting the dying kilometre up to 89 m.p.h. and the flying mile to 87.7. Then Malcolm Campbell took the Austin to Daytona Beach and improved further on the mile and the kilometre.

For a time there was a lull, until next Came the exciting news that the Midget, driven by Eyston, had swept the board, taking the flying kilometre at as much at 97.09 and the mile at 96.93 m.p.h., that being followed by a run at Montlhéry with a supercharged model when 103.16 m.p.h. was recorded for five kilometres, the Midget being the first car in the world to hold records at more than 100 m.p.h. So much for a brief resumé of the story.

Now the special single-seater supercharged Austin, driven by Cushman, has entered on another phase in the evolution of this size of car by breaking the short records over the kilometre and mile, both flying and standing, the flying at more than the "100" mark for the first time.

Leon Cushman, who drove the single-seater racing Austin

As to the car itself, it is naturally the result of last years racing experience, it being decided that for this year the car could be made lower, offering less resistance with great advantage. The driving seat was lowered, which in itself introduced the usual difficulty with a single-seater body, so that the drastic move was adopted of setting the engine, gearbox and propeller-shaft at an angle across the chassis, thus placing the propeller-shaft on the near side of the driver, and necessitating that the bevel gears and casing be mounted on the extreme near side of the car. Then there is streamlining placed on the tail directly behind the driver's head, as well as two separate streamlined casings, one for the front axle and one for the rear of the frame, including the springs and shock absorbers, and a fairing on either side that extends from one wheel to the other, the whole combining to give the proper streamline effect. This car has a four-speed gear box, by the way, and it ran at the Bank Holiday meeting at Brooklànds, coming in second in two races.

The front portion of the chassis, showing the transverse spring mounted beneath the axle, and the vertical supercharger

The transmission is offset to allow the driver to obtain a low seating position

The lines of the Austin are distinctive, the faring between and behind the wheels being especially noticeable

Last Saturday, when the records were taken, was by no means a good day, pouring rain preventing an early attempt as had been hoped for, and even later in the morning there was almost a gale from the south-west, and the track was never really properly dry, consideration of which facts makes what has been done all the better. In its first runs, the standing mile and standing kilometre were taken the former at 74.12 and the latter at 65.01 m.p.h., and then their flying equivalents, the mile at 97.99 and the kilometre at 99.64 m.p.h.

Not content with that, Waite, who was directing operations, had the carburetter cleaned out, the plugs changed and the front wheel discs removed, and after a delay Ior further rain the car went out once more. And, remarkable as it sounds, it was successful yet again in improving on its own figures for the flying records, the mile going to 100.67 and the kilometre to the extraordinary figure of 102.28 m.p.h. --both, of course, the means of runs in either direction. The previous Midget fares for these distances, as already mentioned, were 96.93 and 97.09 respectively.

By no means the least meritorious part of this excellent performance was the typically calm way in which the whole thing was carried through, there being no flap or bother of any kind. The car came down to the track ready to go out, did its runs, broke the records, came in for verification and minor adjustments, went out again and did even better. Certainly the two least excited people of everyone down there were Cushman and Waite.


Event Type
Image Source