Howmet turbine - 1969
Howmet TX Turbine Car
TURBINE-POWERED sports car will be prepared for the 1968 Qaytona Continental, Sebring and Le Mans races. The Howmet Corp., a New York manufacturer of, jet engine components and processor of space age metals is, backing a planned 2-car assault on these classic races. Dick Thompson and Ed Lowther have been nominated as drivers of the new machines. The body and chassis were built by Bob McKee of Palatine, Ill., and the car was designed by Ray Heppenstall of Philadelphia, who first approached Howmet's Tom Flemirig with the idea.
The chassis is of tube frame construction.- Suspension is typical of modern race car practice with - unequal A-arms, and coil-shock units. The body is of aluminum panels-it wouldn't do for a metals outfit to use fiberglass, would it?
The engine is made by Continental of Detroit and, it whirls at 57,000 rpm,which is reduced to 6700 rpm at the output shaft where it is rated at 330 bhp. The TX base, single forward speed and an electrically driven reverse. The power train (turbine and differential) weigh about 250 Ib and the cars dry weight is, 1430 Ib. The overall length is 171 in, width 69', and height 37. It has American Mag wheels and uses Goodyear tires.
The inevitable comparison with Andy Granaielli's STP turbine car shows the TX Continentai Red Seal engine to be much smaller. The Continental is about 20 in. shorter (roughly 40 in. vs. 60) and 10 in's less in diameter than the Pratt & Whitney ST -6 used in the Indy car. The TX turbine weighs only 136 Ib, not counting wastegate. A key difference is that the TX has an inlet annulus diameter of 9 in. against the STP car's 22.
Like it or not, the turbine car seems about, ready to become a part of motor racing. The Sports Car Club of America and the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile have granted organizers permission to create a special "exhibition class" within Group 6 Prototype in which to run cars like the Howmet
The blue and white car looks good. The first has been completed (except that, the engine is in mock-up form), and the second is under construction. The design, while a little reminiscent of the breadwagon school with its straight body and untapered tail, is clean and uncluttered. The workmanship and finish are good and there are obviously enough dollars around to assure a first-class operation throughout. Also, the fact that Tom Fleming, the Howmet vice president in chargee is a car buff and one time SCCA driver should help.