From Rootes Review: Vol. 5, #4, April 1980

The president of Tigers/Alpines East has requested that the club Reps send an article to the Rootes Review, detailing what is going on in our region. For the interest of our members. I would like to introduce Lawrence E. Mayfield of Madison Alabama who is building the world’s fastest Sunbeam. Unfortunately he is moving out of the Deep South, so I asked him to tell his story, while he is still in our region.

Ed Esslinger

World’s Fastest Sunbeam Wannabie

by Lawrence E. Mayfield

Hi! My name is Lawrence E. Mayfield, AKA, Larry, Mayfield, Dr. Mayfield plus a few I’d rather not print! I have been asked by Ed to put together a short blurb about my current project: my World’s Fastest Sunbeam Wannabie.

Oh, man, how did I come to this? Well, the list was chatting about Sunbeam and the World’s Unlimited Land Speed Records and how a Sunbeam (oh, what a Sunbeam! 44000 cc displacement, chain drive and wire wheels!) held the record at 203.792 mph in 1927. This really captured my attention and I decided that it was time that another Sunbeam bettered that mark. I looked at my Tiger, which I have owned since early 1967 (second owner) and decided that I could not convert it to a purpose built race car. Not at the price of Tigers today! Nor, I determined could I destroy a reasonably rebuildable Alpine. So I searched for quite some time and once had an S4 Automatic in my sights when it was stolen, but that’s another story…

I finally located a rust bucket parts car and it was  nearby. It was a real rust bucket, literally and I fell for it immediately. I was certain that no one would accuse me of destroying an Alpine instead of restoring it (I was wrong!). I obtained the rule books for SCTA-BNI (the Salt Flats guys) and NHRA, because by now I had decided that the car would also be drag raced occasionally.

Glumly, I found out that in order to be campaigned in NHRA it would have to have it’s wheelbase stretched to the minimum of 90 inches or use it’s original motor. Dumb rule but it’s their game. I spent the better part of a year designing and measuring and designing and measuring…I sent the frame and roll cage specifications to a frame builder and they bent the frame tubes and welded them together using their jig fixtures. They bent the cage tubes and then sent the whole mess to me. My design includes a race strut front end, a 4-link rear suspension, Ford 9 inch differential, really, big axles, and four wheel disk brakes. I use a Flaming River rack and pinion for steering. During the design phase, I had developed a series of analyses (remember I am a retired aerospace engineer weenie) that told me what my horsepower needs would be at speeds exceeding the old record. About this time an article in Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords caught my eye – a junk yard twin turboed Mustang which runs pretty well.

I was captivated. Here was the means to get the needed horsepower with some reliability. The engine is based on a DSS 306 short block which has half inch head studs to really clamp the heads down. Main bearing stud girdle and windage tray. Aluminum heads will be used, maybe Edlebrock or TFS. Electronic fuel injection is used with a home made twin throttle body upper manifold. Twin turbos are used. You all know how small the LBCs are under the hood, well even with all the cutting I did I could only get a small Sirocco radiator in place. But I use an electric water pump and a 10 gallon water tank. I had hoped to run the car this year but this does not look possible. I still have a fire suppression system to obtain and install, a parachute, fuel pump, filter and plumbing (tank is in front of the radiator), and water plumbing. Instrumentation panel has been made and wired, computer harness is in hand. Initial startup and running will be accomplished using the stock computer but the race computer will be a Superbrain with laptop for data acquisition and control changes. Oh, the instrument panel has a 300 mph speedo with memory for instant gratification!

While I don’t update my web site very often, it does contain a lot of info about the race car. Check it here.

Feel free to log on and look around. Well, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to tell you a very little bit about the project and me, but I gotta run now…supper is calling!

Thanks for listening…

L.E. Mayfield
124 Maximillion Drive
Madison, Al. 35758-8171
ph: 1-256-837-1051

Comments (1)

Hi Larry, I do believe you were my first Boss at Boeing, read your story in classic motorsports so went looking on line. I’m entering my 25 th year at Boeing, in Seattle working in fuel systems for the 747. Dad and mom are still with us, living just north of Seattle in Arlington. I remember a rather loud blue tiger going up David Rd, and lots of cold windy days watching you and dad at the autocross. The Porsche Speedsteer is still in the familiy, we returned it to the road several years ago after a 30 year rest, what a jewel ! Barb (yes, dads secretary from TRW) and I have 3 kids Scott 20, Sarah 18 and Greg 17.
Good to see you are having fun !

Peter Lane

Leave a Reply