Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

POM ON RACECAR BODYWORK, 1920–1939 PART 1

PAST GENERATIONS EXPERIENCED more future shock than we do. For example, Sherlock Holmes contended with the introduction of electric lighting, the telephone, the automobile, and the aeroplane.

Even past generations of motor sports enthusiasts experienced future shock to a greater degree than we do today. This assertion can be confirmed in Laurence Pomeroy’s authoritative two-volume work The Grand Prix Car. We’ll examine motor racing future shock in Parts 1 and 2, today and tomorrow.

The Grand Prix Car, Volumes One and Two, by Laurence Pomeroy, Motor Racing Publications, 1954.

One of Pom’s analyses in Volume Two of The Grand Prix Car is titled “The Development of the Road Racing Body Form 1920-1939.” His commentary on the matter is accompanied by profile illustrations in 1:25 scale by L.C. Cresswell. The cars range from the 1920-1921 Ballot to the 1939 W-163 Mercedes-Benz, both of which receive detailed analyses in Volume One.

The Past Two Decades. To put these earlier cars in perspective, here are Ferrari Formula 1 cars from two seasons 20 years apart, 2000 and 2019.

Above, the Ferrari F1-2000. Below, the Ferrari SF-90.


Michael Schumacher drove the Ferrari F1-2000 to the third of his record-setting seven World Drivers’ Championships. The car also defended Ferrari’s Constructors’ Championship. The Ferrari F1-2000’s mid-mounted V-10 displaced 3 liters and was normally aspirated. Its bodywork was complexly winged, vaned, and end-plated.

The Ferrari SF-90 is driven this season by four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and newcomer Charles Leclerc. A significant evolution in motor racing, its propulsion is hybrid: a mid-mounted turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 teamed with a kinetic and thermal energy recovery system. Its bodywork is complexly winged, vaned, end-plated, and features the 2018-mandatory halo protection system over its cockpit.

Future shock? Or just fascinating mechanical, aerodynamic, and safety evolution?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at Pom’s analyses of Grand Prix shapes of earlier periods, from the beginning to World War II’s cessation of motor sports competition. Pom will offer automotive technicalities and a bit of Latin as well. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

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