Flying A Emblem AUSTIN WORKS Banner Flying A Emblem

10,000 MILES IN 10,000 MINUTES

Deer Devon

Alan Hess (left) and Goldie Gardner (right) pose with the deer
which stopped the first record attempt at Long Island, New York

After a failed attempt to achieve this record in April 1950, at an airfield at Long Island, New York, U.S.A. (when the A40 Devon hit a deer!) the team of Jeavons, Fisher, Hess, Walters and George Coates as head mechanic, then took a standard A40 Devon to Montlhery racing track near Paris to have another go at the record.

A40 Devon on track

A40 Devon on Montlhery race track (near Paris)

From August 7 to August 14 (1950) an entirely standard Austin A40 Devon saloon ran continuosly around the Montlhery racing track, near Paris, stopping only to refuel and change drivers and make routine adjustments.

"The object of the exercise" was to cover 10,000 miles in 10,000 minutes, and the drivers - Jeavons, Fisher, Walters and Hess - were specially picked for the job as they were known to be very consistent drivers and, above all, because they could be relied upon scrupulously to obey pit-signals.

Dennis May was again in charge of the Pits, assisted by George Wiliams, while Joe Galvin and George Coates were there as Head Mechanics.

The run began in blazing heat. So hot was it, indeed, that one of the Automobile Club de France Official Timekeepers collapsed over his watches on the second day and had to be taken off to hospital in an ambulance.

Yet despite the heat no oil or water had to be added to the Austin until the third day of the run.

At the end of 24 hours the car had averaged 65.24 m.p.h. After 48 hours, the average had dropped slightly to 65.07 m.p.h. as the car was still much in front of its schedule and was deliberately slowed down.

At the conclusion of three days - approximately half the distance - the A40 was called in for a fairly lengthly routine pit stop when, purely as precautionary measures, the oil in the sump was renewed, all four wheels were changed (not that there was any noticeable wear on the tyres), all oil and water levels were checked, plugs were changed, tappet clearances were checked and distributor points were gone over. Lamps and screen were cleaned, of course, petrol replinished and then off went the car again - with an overall average speed, including this stop, of 64.54 m.p.h.

On the fourth day rain fell persistently, yet the speed increased to 65.26 m.p.h. - and this in spite of the fact that the drivers had to contend with fog that night, caused by the heavy rain of the day on the sunbaked track.

At the end of five days the average had risen to 65.52 m.p.h. - a new record in International Class F, beating Citroen's previous figure by more than 3-1/2 m.p.h.

During the sixth day the 15,000 kilometres record fell to the Austin with 17 hours to spare at 65.59 m.p.h. (6-1/2 m.p.h. better than the existing record) while a new record was also established for the Six Days at 65.62 m.p.h. - again more than 6-1/2 m.p.h. faster than the previous figure.

The following day, the Austin was so far ahead of its schedule that, one lap before the completion of the 10,000 miles, it halted for nearly twelve hours in order to bring its overall average for the distance down to the required 60 m.p.h.

A40 Devon Day 7

Just before the start of the final lap on the seventh day

At approximately seven o'clock the next morning, this final lap was completed on the right split-second and the Austin had gloriously accomplished its objective of 10,000 Miles in 10,000 Minutes - incidentally, it also set up a new record for that distance as previously this had stood at 58.21 m.p.h.

The car had already exceeded the requisite distance, also, for a new Seven Days' record and this was pushed to 59.58 m.p.h.

Thus, the A40 established five new International Class F records and became the first ordinary family saloon ever to achieve such a distinction.


Mission accomplished! Champagne, the toast - "The Austin A40"!

AUSTIN WORKS designed by Rob Stuart