Just how impressive is this prewar car’s rain-soaked drift? You tell us
Drifting is a sport that gets a lot of gruff from enthusiasts. The lack of any timing or other objective performance metric makes it unique in the motorsports space and thus frequently misunderstood. It’s the slowest way around a corner—any road racer will tell you that—but, by golly, does drifting look badass when the subject is a pre-war racer on skinny tires.
This particular example comes from the 78th annual Goodwood Member’s Meeting. The car is a Theophile Schneider Aero wheeled quite expertly by Hughie Walker. Theophile Schneider was a French manufacturer that spent only a short stint in the auto business, lasting just two decades after its founding in 1910. In that time, its focus was mainly on building staid sedans whose lackluster horsepower ratings barely cracked the double digits. However, like most companies of the early 20th century, Theophile Schneider viewed racing as advertisement and thus campaigned racing cars based on its production models, most notably running two French Grand Prix races.
It’s hard to picture drivers over 100 years ago hustling a car as hard as Walker is in this clip, though. A smooth track with good runoff is certainly a more forgiving environment than the rough paths and roads on which Theophile Schneider’s drivers would have campaigned. The lack of rollbar or safety harness make these big opposite-lock slides sketchy by every definition, even considering the wet pavement and pizza-cutter tires.
Look, I’ve slid around a prewar car race car and the thing that very few folks realize is how heavy these machines are. They look lithe because they are missing the stuff that makes cars subjectively pretty—fenders, for example—but the parts left are big chucks of cast iron. The 1917 Peerless I drive for Hagerty in the Great Race is an aluminum-bodied speedster that weighs 3100 pounds with me in it. These machines also have what most would call “go cart steering.” It’s fast-ratio, unforgiving, and can be quite heavy—those giant wheels and tires are just big gyroscopes you are trying to manhandle with your biceps and no assistance, electrical or otherwise.
That said, are you impressed by the car control on exhibit here? Give us your 1-to-10 rating of Walker’s drive in the comments below.