Author Topic: BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record  (Read 554 times)

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record
« on: July 28, 2020, 08:52:43 AM »
Briano di Perri and the Land Speed Record Stutz BdB Black Hawk

F.E. Moskovics and the staff of his Stutz Motor Car Company were in shock. April 1928 had witnessed the tragic loss of young racer Frank Lockhart in the crash of the Stutz Black Hawk Special while attempting a new Land Speed Record on the sands at Daytona Beach, Florida. In despair, brothers Zenas and John Weisel who had designed the car had thrown in the towel. Was it over?

The Stutz Black Hawk Special had been a beautiful car. The sleek, polished aluminium body was tailored to fit the driver. The only excrescence was the intercooler which formed part of the cowling above the engine. Each of the four wheels was almost entirely clad in tightly-fitting spats reaching almost to the ground. But when a rear tire blew at over 220 mph there could only one, tragic outcome.

In the Spring of 1929, Fred Moskovics met with the talented Italian-American designer Briano Cristoforo di Perri to review the situation. First was a review of the competition. The 'triple threat' came from Ray Keech in his White Triplex car. Powered by three big Liberty V-12 aircraft engines, the White Triplex was a force to be reckoned with. To compete, the Stutz Motor Car Company was going to need more power ... but without all the weight of those huge Liberty engines. Ingegnere di Perri had a solution in mind.

The answer to power requirements, di Perri proclaimed was his Binario doppio Binario (or 'Two Parts Doubled'). The Black Hawk Special powerplant had been comprised of two Miller 8-cylinder inline engines twinned into a V-16 set up. That would be retained but, in the Binario doppio Binario (BdB) arrangement, there would be two V-16 engines driving the new car. One V-16 would be mounted in the nose driving an axle beneath the cockpit. A second V-16 would be mounted behind the driver, driving a third pair of wheels further aft. Thus, the BdB approach provided the needed boost in power while improving safety. Now, should a tire blow at high speed, stability would be maintained by the five intact tires.

More Power, Six Spats

The 6-wheeled BdB Black Hawk was rolled out in January 1929 and shipped to Daytona Beach for testing. Results were extremely promising. L'ingegnere was in the driver's seat for the final trial runs. Pleased with the break-in period, it was decided to attempt to break the record speed. On Wednesday, 24 April 1929, with B.C. di Perri at the wheel, the Stutz BdB Black Hawk established a new Land Speed Record of 235 mph.

A rare contemporary phantom-view drawing of the Stutz BdB Black Hawk is attached.
"... blac to gebeddan; bleda gedreosaþ, wynna gewitaþ, wera geswicaþ"

Offline GTX_Admin

  • Evil Administrator bent on taking over the Universe!
  • Administrator - Yep, I'm the one to blame for this place.
  • Whiffing Demi-God!
    • Beyond the Sprues
Re: BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2020, 01:38:38 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline jcf

  • Global Moderator
  • Turn that Gila-copter down!
Re: BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2020, 12:50:14 AM »
Long a favourite, of course there was really nothing Stutz about it aside from a place to work and funding, and the
craptastic and obsolete  stock Stutz worm-gear rear axle, properly it's the Lockhart Stutz Black Hawk Special. 
;)
The car was white BTW, only the wheel spats were plain aluminum, and the intercooler for the V-16 wasn't much of
an excresence.
 ;)

Interestingly Frank had originally conceived of a car with a full-envelope body ala the Sunbeam 'Slug', it was
the Weisel's who convinced him to go for the design as built. The wheel-covers are considered by some to have
been a factor in both of the wrecks, the earlier one that put him in the surf and the fatal wreck. The windage of
the spats increasing instability in even a slight crosswind.
“Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple.
Sense doesn’t come into it. People are
more scared of how complicated shit
actually is than they ever are about
whatever’s supposed to be behind the
conspiracy.”
-The Peripheral, William Gibson 2014

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2020, 02:48:11 AM »
Cheers Jon. Interesting stuff!

I had assumed that the 'brighter' main body of the Black Hawk Special was due to polishing. I see some artwork and models around that suggest that others have been fooled by this too.

Agreed on the intercooler-as-cowling lines ... I just really like the look of the word excrescence  ;D

Windage: I can see how those huge RW spats would contribute to crosswind resistance. So, my 6x6's half-again increase in windage (and close-coupled to boot!) was hardly going to help  :o

Interesting too about Lockhart wanting a full body. On 'The Slug', everybody else seems to have been going for aircraft engines. (I had thought that the Matabele had more aluminum in its construction that the Liberty, so was surprised to see that the Sunbeam's dry weight was actually higher than the L-12!)

Talking of Sunbeam makes me wonder about the later Silver Bullet. Would not its wheel covers and partial spats have produced similar crosswind problems as the Black Hawk Special?
"... blac to gebeddan; bleda gedreosaþ, wynna gewitaþ, wera geswicaþ"

Offline jcf

  • Global Moderator
  • Turn that Gila-copter down!
Re: BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2020, 03:31:34 AM »
Quote
Talking of Sunbeam makes me wonder about the later Silver Bullet. Would not its wheel covers and partial spats have produced similar crosswind problems as the Black Hawk Special?

The wheel covers and fixed 'air smoothers' behind the wheels, they didn't move with the wheels, were the least of
the Bullet's problems. 
;D ;D :icon_fsm:

Full wheel covers were used on Campbell's Bluebirds and the Irving-Napier Special aka Golden Arrow,
and I've read anything about them causing issues, ditto the side 'pods' of the latter.

Part of the problem on the Lockhart car is that the spats are rigidly mounted to  the suspension, they move up
and down with the suspension arms and the front ones turn with the wheels. Frankly, the Weisel's design was
over complicated and questionable on many levels.

Going back to Frank's original envelope-body concept, he was going to use two Miller 91s driving straight back
to the rear axle like Duesenberg Milton. The push to the Weisel's design is why the V-16 came about.


Evidently Frank had originally considered making his runs at Muroc Dry Lake in California, which isn't surprising
as he was raised in Southern California and got his start in racing on the West Coast circuit.

There's a what-if notion for ya: twin-Miller 91s, envelope body and the LSR set, and later defended, at Muroc.
No squirrelly slender car, no wet sand and no fatality.

As an aside Frank's former racing technical partner Olson parted ways with Frank over the LSR project, he wanted
Frank to go to Monza for the 1927 Italian Grand Prix, evidently he felt Frank's skills meant he could contend in Grand
Prix racing.
Hmmm ...
“Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple.
Sense doesn’t come into it. People are
more scared of how complicated shit
actually is than they ever are about
whatever’s supposed to be behind the
conspiracy.”
-The Peripheral, William Gibson 2014

Offline buzzbomb

  • Low Concentration Span, oft wanders betwixt projects
  • Accurate Scale representations of fictional stuff
    • Club and my stuff site
Re: BdB Black Hawk Land Speed Record
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2020, 10:02:22 AM »
Well this is going to be interesting