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A prophet without honour


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#1 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 23:41

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present EA Hellstrand.

Who?

EA Hellstrand

Nope, I'd never heard of him either! However, it appears that he may very well be the first person to propose movable aerodynamic devices controlled by the driver:

Would it not be practicable to fit light racing cars for track use with a couple of ailerons one projecting each side of the car about the back of the driver's seat and at the level of the chassis frame .... the adjustment could be partly by hand and interconnected with a pointer and scale in view of the driver so that settings found suitable .... could quickly be made with certainty. Has any reader [of Autocar] tried devices on the lines indicated?



That's a quote from a letter published in 1924.

Ironically, my source for it is William Court's "Power and Glory" - writing in 1966, Court says with authority "to this day no racing car has been fitted with ailerons", conveniently ignoring the May brothers' Porsche from the 50s. Oh well, even the greatest writers get it wrong sometimes! Even as he wrote, the McLaren team were making their first experiments with what became known as wings ....

Hellstrand was probably influenced by the Opel Rakete, which had fixed wings between the wheels, but his idea for movable aerodynamic devices would have been a quantum leap in the 1920s. Just imagine ...... :)

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#2 Gary Davies

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 00:16

Interesting indeed. One wonders, however, to what effect were Mr. Hellstrand's movable aerodynamic devices intended.

The quote, tantalisingly, doesn't say where his suggestion was leading us.

If Hellstrand's notion was the same as the Gebrüder May 35-odd years later, it is interesting to speculate on the effect of aerodynamically induced downforce on the marginal tyres and suspension components of the mid-twenties.

#3 David McKinney

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 05:56

Originally posted by bertocchi
Where was the 1966 Mr. Court during the evolution of Ritchie Ginther's 'spoiler' work with Ferrari some years prior to '66. Speaking of the number '66'...what about...Jim Hall's 'Wonderful White Winged Warriors?' Apologies to Dick Orkin for the 'Warrior' lift.

Court does say "racing cars". The Ferrari and Chaparral developments were on sportscars

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 09:35

Originally posted by Vanwall
Interesting indeed. One wonders, however, to what effect were Mr. Hellstrand's movable aerodynamic devices intended.

The quote, tantalisingly, doesn't say where his suggestion was leading us.


In context in Court's narrative, it is one of a number of quotes regarding the forthcoming 1926 Formula. The great concern was, as ever, that speeds were increasing too fast, while the cars were too dangerous. Pietro Bordino called the cars "too fast even for the best of us", Louis Wagner said the introduction of the new regulations would be "almost fatal to the motor movement" and André Boillot called them "stark madness".

JE Scales: "The great defect of modern racing cars is that their road adhesion is so low that they are dangerous".

René Thomas: "The result will be that we shall have an overpowered engine in a featherweight chassis having a low co-efficient of safety and exceedingly difficult to hold on the road at high speeds". Boillot had already complained that the existing cars were impossible to hold on the straight at Lyon.

Originally posted by Vanwall
If Hellstrand's notion was the same as the Gebrüder May 35-odd years later, it is interesting to speculate on the effect of aerodynamically induced downforce on the marginal tyres and suspension components of the mid-twenties.


Indeed. But a few suspension failures might have tipped off Coatalen and the others to what was happening: I suspect the suspension would have given out before the tyres, especially if they tried balloon tyres rather than the more traditional European type. It might have forced tyre development too: just imagine a winged Mercedes Benz W25 with (say) ten-inch rear tyres!

#5 David McKinney

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 10:30

At the time, I promise you, sportscars were sportscars (whether or not they were designed for racing) and racing cars were racing cars, invariably single-seaters. We may use different definitions now, but I'm sure Court would have intended the definition in general use at that time

#6 Roger Clark

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 07:29

The quotes posted by Vitesse2 from Bordino, Wagner and others are interesting; is this the only time drivers have complained that cars were too fast, particularly on the introduction of a new formula designed to slow the cars down? It is interesting to read Andre Boillot's opinion of the cars at Lyons, as I don't think he raced there.

The general tenor of the remarks should be seen in the context of the great advances made in racing car performance under the 2-litre formula. When first announced, the 1926/27 formula had a minimum weight limit of 500 kilos, compared with 650 of the 2-litre formula. By the time it came into effect, that limit had been increased to 600 kilos and 700 in 1927. There was a feeling at the time that the supercharger had made engine capacity limits irrelevant and it was to be 12 years before Grand Prix racing introduced another such restriction.

As regards the Chaparral, I don't think the 2E had appeared when his book was published. I don't know whether Court intended his slightly throw-away remark to include sports-racing cars, but the Chaparrals were built for one purpose only. and that was to race.

#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 14:27

Originally posted by Roger Clark
The quotes posted by Vitesse2 from Bordino, Wagner and others are interesting; is this the only time drivers have complained that cars were too fast, particularly on the introduction of a new formula designed to slow the cars down? It is interesting to read Andre Boillot's opinion of the cars at Lyons, as I don't think he raced there.

The general tenor of the remarks should be seen in the context of the great advances made in racing car performance under the 2-litre formula. When first announced, the 1926/27 formula had a minimum weight limit of 500 kilos, compared with 650 of the 2-litre formula. By the time it came into effect, that limit had been increased to 600 kilos and 700 in 1927. There was a feeling at the time that the supercharger had made engine capacity limits irrelevant and it was to be 12 years before Grand Prix racing introduced another such restriction.

As regards the Chaparral, I don't think the 2E had appeared when his book was published. I don't know whether Court intended his slightly throw-away remark to include sports-racing cars, but the Chaparrals were built for one purpose only. and that was to race.


Presumably Boillot was there purely as a spectator as Peugeot weren't involved in GP racing in 1924.

Surely the authorities had taken fright at the pace of development? As you point out Roger, technologically the 2-litre cars were advancing very quickly: the switch to smaller capacity engines must have seemed like a sensible solution but as the teams learned more about supercharging they quickly negated the reduction in capacity. That's presumably why they kept increasing the minimum weight.

But of course, if they'd listened to Hellstrand, the designers would have had a whole new set of problems to resolve - strengthening suspensions and improving the tyres for starters!