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Last months column on engines brought on the heat. My proof-reader who claims that he somewhat enjoys my columns said he was totally lost in the technical talk by the second paragraph. I really don't know why because the workings of an engine are really quite simple. Maybe I should do something on desmodromic valve action to really get him confused. All I can say to him is think of what you are saying when you are talking about double split tee formations with the halfback behind the fullback and the one guy still didn't get his quarterback from the fullback or flankers tight end, Whahesay?
June 6th, 7th and 8th found the mighty vintage racing team of Archibald and lockrow at Mosport Park just the other side of Toronto. This was the focus event this year for MG Vintage Racers and being it was relatively close we decided to enter the field. We left Friday morning about 9 o'clock and travelled the Queen E to insanity alley, which is the 401. We hit Toronto about 11 o'clock and it was a mass of cars as far as the eye could see. Struggling through we arrived at Mosport around 2:o'clock and checked in at registration. We were told to go in the next gate, go through the tunnel and into the pits. What they didn't tell us was if you had a rig of any size it won't go through the tunnel. We almost had the rig stuck in the tunnel but managed somehow to get it clear. I then drove the TC into the paddock area and Arch drove the motorhome over the track to the paddock. MG Vintage Racers fielded about 30 cars for this event including three TCs, two TDs, two Midgets and the rest MGAs. It was a good cross section of MGs with the Bs begin the quickest and the TCs being the slowest with one exception.
It would give me great pleasure to say we had the fastest TC on the course but I would be making a big white lie. A certain light blue TC was one of the most developed and quickest TCs I have ever seen. Not only did it go like the blazes, it handled remarkably well for a solid axle car. It still didn't have the road holding capabilities of an MGA (just ask Joe Tierno), but it was blowing the doors off several MGAs on the course. I looked this car over pretty carefully as I always like to see what has been done to make these old square riggers go so fast and see what little secrets you can pick up.
To begin with, the car had been lowered (yes, he lowered a TC) about two inches in front and about three quarters of an inch in the back. This of course makes the car go downhill and is the reason why it goes so fast all the time. Huh..what? You don't believe that? It was running on 16-inch deep dish centre-lock wire wheels with what appeared to be Dunlop race tyres of some sort. The front axle had been reformed to put in negative camber and he was using TD lever action shocks on the front. I didn't crawl under to see what was in the back. It had a dual braking system for safety reasons as well as a roll bar, safety harness, fire system and all the requirements for VSCCA and SVRA.
After talking with the owner we discovered a few more state-of-the-art speed secrets. One was a program of weight loss on the car. He ran Alfin aluminium brake drums with special brake linings from sprint car use. A fuel cell was made to fit an original looking rear fuel tank made out of aluminium. He ran a dummy generator with just a pulley to save weight as well as a one-piece aluminium bonnet and cycle front wings. Several original body items like the battery and tool box had also been removed to save weight.
The engine was equipped with a steel crank and was running a Laystall-Lucas reproduction aluminium cylinder head. I didn't ask what the compression ratio was but he told Archibald that he was cresting the hill on the course at about 7,400 RPM. Jack told me, at best, he hit 7000 RPM about twice all weekend. I did notice that it was a XPAG TD block instead of a TC as it had the later oil filter setup but other than that it is the same as the TC. The owner said he saw a few times he was running at 115 or 116 mph. All I can say is anything over about 85 in a TC is a real thrill. What holds that engine together I really don't know, but someone has put a tremendous amount of time in it to make it perform the way it does. A normal XPAG block turned at an RPM like that would result in a basket full of bits very shortly. In a way, it is exciting to see a car developed this way taking a late 1930's design and running better than some 1960's technology.
The other TC was pretty much stock and although it was fitted with rack and pinion steering it was a good deal slower that Archibalds. Of the 5 T series cars running, the light blue TC was by far the quickest, followed by a beautifully turned-out red TD, A yellow TD, Jacks TC and then the black TC.
Our team car had a good dice with the chap in a yellow TD. The two cars circulated quite evenly with Jack taking the TD on the uphill stretch and the TD continually taking the TC in the corners. The track was a little bumpy in areas and the TC would just bounce all over creation while the TD would just motor by. This is a very quick insight into the differences in suspension and both of these cars are nearing the 50-year mark. It's no wonder a modern car can go by on a rough surface with so little effort.
This was the first time out with the TC after the engine replacement last fall. We had some problems with the cylinder head gasket leaking but after pulling the head about four or five times the problem was finally resolved. Just about the time we were finishing up the TC seemed to be loosening up and the RPM were going up a little. About one or two more session and it should be good and loose as my father used to say. Talking to Jack the other evening, he informed me that we won a second in class which I assume consisted of the yellow TD, Jack's car and the black TC with the rack and pinion steering. All in all it was a good time and we learned a lot.
I'm not sure I have mentioned this but the goal of this team is to run the 50th running of the Glen in 199.8 After that we may hang up the nomex. If any of you people have never been to Watkins Glen than you should start making plans now to go to the vintage races in the fall of 1998. This will be the 50th anniversary of the running of the first race in 1948. It promises to be one big-time celebration and if you have never been to the Glen before, don't, for any reason, miss this event. There will be a few of the original drivers there but hopefully a good deal more of the original cars. This should be the premier vintage event for 1998 and also the focus event for MG Vintage racers.
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MGCC Western New York Centre