History Road 2010: Simplificate and Add Lightness — The Prequel

"Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere." – Colin Chapman

Years before Colin B. Chapman, CBE, instituted his oft-stated mantra of “simplify and add lightness”, that mentality was in wide use during the 1920s and 30s amongst those few brave souls willing to undertake the sport of auto racing. In fairness, those lads may have taken it significantly further. They may also have had balls of depleted uranium.

I imagine repairs would be easy. Perhaps we should suggest this as the model for the next Indy car?

This particular specimen was based on a Model T Ford, and used the ubiquitous 20-horsepower 176cid inline four-cylinder. It was built and raced by Stan Reynolds, upon whose car collection the Reynolds Museum is based. This car won the Model T Racing Championship in 1947, so it has a true racing pedigree. And heritage racing pedigree, which is even more fantastic. There are many period cars that currently compete in events such as the Sonoma Historic Motorsport Festival, and while absolutely fantastic, nothing can top the bragging rights of having competed during the original time period.
It’s quite interesting how much some things actually don’t change over time. The same basic principles apply to this car as are applied to most cars wanting to actually get faster today. Not those teenagers with Sunfires, of course. No large wings and fart-can exhausts, but a massive weight reduction, and performance modifications. A larger “header” style exhaust was added, and anything not contributing to the functionality of the car was removed. Including much of the floorboard. And the hood. And pretty much all of the car. The suspension was significantly modified to bring the car as close to the ground as possible. In today’s realm of racing cars that sit barely an inch off the ground, it does appear rather quaint. When you consider how much worse the roads would have been in that time however, this would have been designed for conditions that would put most of today’s “soft-roaders” to shame.
More impressive is the fact that there was a passenger seat. That seems to point to the indication that there was not one, but two people mad enough to want to drive this at breakneck speeds around a racecourse.
I may or may not be one of them. But I’m pretty sure I may.

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13 responses to “History Road 2010: Simplificate and Add Lightness — The Prequel”

  1. acarr260 Avatar

    I saw the early race cars of Mercedes in their museum this year. Safety certainly wasn't a concern. It was all about speed at that point. From their literature at the museum, it seemed that quite a few drivers perished in the early race days.

    1. FЯeeMan Avatar

      I think the perishing came from being hit by the pointy end of the 'header'. Yikes that thing looks wicked from that end!
      /like that's the most dangerous thing here…

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    Awesome. I would commute that.

  3. Kogashiwa Avatar

    Wouldn't the passenger seat have been for the ride-along mechanic?

    1. AlexG55 Avatar

      A lot of racing classes had (and still have) a requirement that the car have a passenger seat. Le Mans cars still have to have them- though the rule is now enforced very loosely such that just having space for a passenger seat counts.

  4. CptSevere Avatar

    Aside from the headers, I don't think there was much done to modify this T, other than "adding lightness." Yeah, the stock three pedal transmission is in place, I forget how it works. I can ask my buddy who drives his '21 T pretty much daily. I like this one's manual oogah horn, that's class.

  5. nofrillls Avatar

    Hahaha, sweet. What could be more fun than crossing a bicycle with a lawnmower? Why, this Model_T racer of course!

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