As somebody used to ask, what in the world interests women? Well, competition, for one thing, and last week brought a small, impromptu road race in documentation. Sweeping up to London Thursday night in her gleaming black, chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, returning from a visit to her sister's castle at Windsor, came Britain's Princess Margaret. Bowling along from the airport in her twinkly black, chauffeur-driven Humber came France's Brigitte Bardot into the same stretch of road. And so it befell somehow that, mile after mile, sometimes at speeds up to 80, the two limousines raced along, with now the Humber, now the Rolls ahead.
The princess, of course. There are limits beyond which even a screen star may not presume. But Brigitte was gallant in defeat. "Most alluring," she said of Margaret. Had the princess recognized her? "I don't know," said B.B., "but she looked at me very hard."
Danger at 180 mph
In the 10 weeks since its opening, Florida's new Daytona International Speedway has been the scene of seven high-speed spin-outs, two of which were fatal to the drivers (SI, March 2; April 13). When Bill France, the president of the Speedway, set out to create the fastest automobile racing track in the world he built better than he knew: the Daytona Speedway makes it possible for Indianapolis-type racing cars to reach—and maintain—speeds (180 mph and up) at which their handling characteristics are unknown and danger factors are enormously multiplied. Sadly Bill France announced the other day that big car competition will be suspended on his new track, and that the 300-mile race scheduled for Independence Day will be shifted to Durham, N.C.
"We think we have the fastest and safest track in the world here at Daytona," said France, "but it needs a full evaluation. We want the car owners to accept the track as a challenge and do more experimenting with speeds of 180 and more. Between now and next winter—we've got a big car race tentatively set for February—we think they'll find the answers.
"The most critical problem," he went on, "is keeping the wheels on the ground, keeping them in traction. One man here drove two Thunder-birds in sports car races. One had a locked differential and the other had a free one, the kind where one wheel can spin faster than the other.
"With the locked setup, one of the rear wheels has to slide around the curves; in the free one, it doesn't. The free rear-end steered much better.
"Now the big cars use locked differentials. They slide a little at the corners. At Indianapolis, this is fine; it is not a banked track and they don't reach our speeds. Our setup is different here. Maybe we can't afford to slide at 180 miles an hour. Let's investigate it."