Monday, 31 July 2017

E.R.A. – English Racing Automobiles

In the current vintage racing scene at diverse venues ranging from Silverstone to Prescott, you’ll probably chance to see a lovely proportioned single-seat open-wheeled race car, the E.R.A., shorthand for English Racing Automobiles.

These cars were the brainchild of Humphrey Cook, Raymond Mays, and Peter Berthon in late 1933. It was their way of upholding British prestige in international racing by the design, manufacture and creation of a team of single-seat race cars.



Top-tear Grand Prix racing was prohibitively costly, so they set their sights on the smaller Voiturette (1500cc supercharged) class of racing.

The brilliant British designer Reid Railton designed the chassis, and the engine was a highly developed version of well-proven Riley six-cylinder.

The well-proportioned body certainly made the finished car look like a winner.



With some chassis design refinements and adjustments, by the end of 1934, they had a winning combination.



Through the rest of the decade, the E.R.A. dominated the international Voiturette class, taken to some notable wins by such great drivers as Raymond Mays, Dick Seaman and Prince Bira.



Later on, as the basic design was modified through the A-Type, B-Type, C-Type and D-Type versions, other new designs were developed in the form of the E-Type and G-Type, but these were not developed enough before funding ran out for race car creation, and the company refocused it’s resources into engineering research and development.



The E.R.A. was a rugged racer, and today, most of them have survived.

They live today as the iconic pre-war British race car.
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Friday, 9 June 2017

Le Grand Prix de Monaco

The Grand Prix de Monaco is still going strong since that first race in 1929.

There is none other like it in the world, a high speed race through a historic city center, with changes in elevation, sharp corners, and no place to pass!

With glamorous coastal setting, facing the turquoise waters of the Ligurian Sea, this playground for the ultra-rich on the French Riviera has been on the must-win wish-list of many, if not all, the Grand Prix drivers.



William Grover in a factory Bugatti Type 35B won that 1929 race.





Bugattis, followed up by Alfa Romeos, dominated the early years; Mercedes finished up the pre-war years.





Italian cars, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari won in the early post-war years, then the British Lotus, Cooper, BRM and Tyrrell teams dominated till the mid-1970’s.





Ferrari would come back, mixed in with wins by Wolf, Williams, Brabham, Benetton, Ligier, Renault, Brawn, Red Bull, Mercedes, and many by McLaren.





And Ferrari has now won their first in 16 years!!

Racing the current wide-track Formula 1 cars through the somewhat garish streets of Monaco is borderline ridiculous but at the same time, that’s the beauty of it. It’s the only remaining unchanged race track of the Formula 1 circuits (or should I say circus?) so the drivers are following in the tracks of history, of the greatness of the past exploits.

Nothing can beat that …

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The World's Fastest film

Since the 1930’s, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah has been the place where dreamers and adventurers have gathered to pursue their quest for the limits of speed.

Many land speed records have been taken on this vast flat expanse of salt over the decades.

Even today, long-time speed chasers work tirelessly to reach a new record for their class of vehicle.



German filmmakers Alexandra Leir and Laia Gonzalez are working on a documentary film “The World’s Fastest” about these people and their passion.











They have a KICKSTARTER fundraising campaign in place to raise funds for their wondeful project. You can look into it and contribute here:
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1380496226/the-worlds-fastest-land-speed-racing-in-bonneville







I think that it’s a very worthwhile and interesting subject to tackle, showing the power of passion.

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Lotus Ford Cosworth 49

As Formula 1 engine capacity rules changed from 1.5 liters to 3 liters (or 1.5 liters compressed) for the 1966-1986 seasons, a few manufacturers were left scrambling for suitable power plants.

For 1966, Lotus raced their 33 with both a Climax V8 and BRM V8 and H16 engines, with poor results. They also raced their model 43 BRM to one win.

In the background, Lotus Team owner Colin Chapman was busy convincing the Ford Motor Company to finance the design and build of a new 3 liter V8. Cosworth Engineering Ltd, a successful racing engineering company created by Mike Costin and Frank Duckworth, was commissioned to undertake the new design.


The Ford Cosworth married to the Lotus 49 chassis

As in their model 43, Lotus wanted to design the chassis with the engine as a load-bearing structure carrying the rear suspension. Colin Chapman and fellow designer Maurice Phillipe worked very closely in parallel with Cosworth to assure the success of this approach.


Colin Chapman waits as the mechanics prep the new Lotus 49 for it's first race.

The new Ford Cosworth DFV V8 was introduced in late April 1967, and the Lotus/Cosworth engineering worked hard to have the engine/chassis package ready for it race introduction at the Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort on June 4.


Jim Clark on his way to winning the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix in the new Lotus 49.

Lotus driver Graham Hill easily won pole position, with fellow driver Jim Clark started in 8th place on the grid. As the race started, Hill quickly pulled away from the pack, holding the lead till his engine gave up. In the meantime, Clark moved up through the cars to take on the lead and win the race! An astonishing debut for a new car!

Unfortunately, the engine and chassis were not without their little gremlins, which allowed Denny Hulme racing the Brabham Repco to take the Championship.

For the 1968 season, the de-bugged package did it’s magic, with Graham Hill rallying the team after Jim Clack’s death in an F2 race and taking the Championship for Lotus in the 49B.


Graham Hill on his way to winning the 1968 Grand Prix de Monaco in the 49B.

Interestingly for 1968, Lotus’ Team no longer carried British racing green, but instead the sponsorship colours of Gold Leaf cigarettes, a step that would change the face of Formula 1 sponsorship, and the car’s colours …



Monday, 13 February 2017

1962 Targa Florio

The 1962 Targa Florio, the 46th edition of the famous sports/GT race, ran on 72 kms of perilous public roads through Sicily on May 6.

In the preceding years, it seemed to be a battle between the Porsches and the Ferraris.

For 1962, Scuderia Ferrari raced their Dino 246 SP (No.152), driven by Willy Mairesse, Olivier Gendebien and Ricardo Rodriguez, and their Dino 196 SP (No.120), raced Giancarlo Baghetti and Lorenzo Bandini.


Ricardo Rodriguez confidently racing the Ferrari Dino 246 SP
Pen & ink and markers on 12"x 9" watercolour paper
© Paul Chenard 2016


Ferrari No.152 finished the 10 laps in first place, taking it in 7hrs2mins56secs, followed by No.120 12 minutes later in second place.

Scuderia Ferrari would have to wait till 1965 to get those winner’s laurels back.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Sunoco Porsche 917-30

Can-Am racing was basically McLaren’s game in the late sixties/early nineteen-seventies.

In Europe, Porsche’s successful 917 was regulated out of competition for 1972, so their attention turned to the highly popular and lucrative Can-Am series as a way of repurposing the 917 in the North American market.

For 1972, the 917-10 was developed, featuring a completely new Spyder body. Roger Penske’s Team Penske ran the team with primary driver Mark Donohue.

Early in the season, Donohue was side-lined for most the season in a testing accident, so George Follmer was recruited to take his place. Follmer dominated the season by taking five wins out of nine races.

For 1973, Team Penske was given carte-blanche by Porsche to modify and improve the 917-10. Penske and Donohue revised the aerodynamics, lengthened the wheelbase and tweaked the engine, bringing the power up to a monstrous 1580 horsepower!


Mark Donohue racing the 917-30 at Watkins Glen
Acrylic on 100cm X 50cm (39.4"x 19.7") canvas 
© Paul Chenard 2016

Original art available, as are limited editions.


The new car was designated the 917-30, and was presented in lovely Sunoco yellow and blue sponsorship colours.

Marc Donohue won six out of the season’s eight races in the new racer and took the 1973 Can-Am Championship for Team Penske.

New rules for the 1974 season basically outlawed the 917-30, but it still stirs the blood of those lucky enough to see it in action at the vintage racing meets.