Wednesday 26 March 2014

Thirst for Speed – Sir Henry Segrave

Sir Henry Segrave was a quiet, intelligent man with a lust for speed.

It started in 1915 while he was home recovering from battle wounds that his father picked-up a 20hp two-seater Singer.

After the Great War, he drove a 1914 Opel in the first post-war Brooklands race, and got completely hooked.

An acquaintance of his was connected to the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq automotive company, so he soon joined their team as a works driver.

Sir Henry Segrave racing a 1923 Sunbeam to win the French Grand Prix
Mobil "The Story of Grand Prix motor racing" card, art by Roy Nockolds

He was quite successful through the early to mid 1920’s with them, scoring some Grand Prix wins.

At this point, Sunbeam starting developing special cars aimed at achieving new land speed records. In 1926, he brought a V-12 Sunbeam to a new record of 152.33 mph.

Sir Henry Segrave reaching 203.79 mph
16"x 20" acrylic on canvas by Paul Chenard

For 1927, Segrave went for the ambitious goal of being the first to punch through the 200 mph barrier. In March of that year, driving the red twin-engine “1000HP” Sunbeam, he reached a world-record 203.79 mph on Daytona Beach Florida.

In March of 1929, he returned to Daytona Beach with the 930HP “Golden Arrow” and raised the record again to 231.44 mph.

For 1930, Segrave switched to power boats in an attempt to be the fastest man on water. Piloting Miss England II, he was trying to exceed a speed of 110mph when his boat tumbled and this courageous pioneer was killed at the age of 34.

Sir Henry Segrave in the 1000HP Sunbeam
Etched copper printing block, 7cm X 2.75cm (shown in reverse)
, circa ?

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Matra goes Racing

In the 1960’s, the French high-tech company Matra decided to start building racing cars as a way to promote their capabilities in a very public way.

They started designing and building Formula 3 and Formula 2 cars which relied on Matra’s knowledge of aeronautics and aircraft building methods.

These new racers quickly met with success, which encouraged Matra in 1968 to after the top level of racing, Formula 1.

With Scottish driver Sir Jackie Stewart at the wheel, they took 3 races in the season.

Pen&ink and markers on blue archival paper
© Paul Chenard

For 1969, they introduced a new car, and Stewart took the Championship.

With this first mission accomplished, they expanded into sports car racing, with the goal of winning at the 24 heures du Mans and the World Championship for Makes.

Latex house paint on oak plywood
© Paul Chenard

They won at Le Mans in 1972, 1973, and 1974, and took the Championship for 1973 and 1974. Driving home those 3 wins was French driver Henri Pescarolo, partnered with Graham Hill (Great Britain) the first year in a Matra MS670, and Gérard Larousse (France) for the next two, diving the Matra MS670B, then the MS670C.

Pen&ink and markers on watercolour paper
© Paul Chenard

After 1974, they stopped building racecars, and instead focused on racecar engine development and design.