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 Pit Box Extra

Lorenzo Penna

A name that appeared regularly in articles and results form Italian meetings in the early 1950s was that of Lorenzo Penna from Turin. As well as a competitor who built his own cars he built engines commercially that a number of other competitors were using. He is better known for his Dooling inspired Penna 10 seen below, both with logo and without built around 1951/52.

 Dooling inspired Penna 10 in glow form and with what appears to be a McCoy contact breaker assembly

Another of his 10cc motors, the earlier Il Pantera from 1950, also features on a regular basis, although this glow motor owed much less to any existing engine and had a straight venturi.  The Pantera had six head screws whilst the 10 had eight screws as can be seen below. The Penna 10 was available in two versions, the P10 Tipo Normale with plain big end and rotary valve bushes at Lit 16,500 and the P10 Tipo Speciale with roller bearing big end and ball bearings to the rotary valve at Lit 18,500.

The Pantera

Presumably Penna started building engines to use in tethered cars as he was building his own, almost scale cars, to compete with. These featured clutches and gearboxes and were described in some detail in Modellismo. A later venture that still survives is shown below and is a real engineering tour de force as the entire rear exhaust motor, transmission and gear case is one integrated unit. This unit is then attached to a conventional front half. A fascinating piece of lateral thinking?

Lorenzo Penna vanishes from results after just a few years, although his motors carried on for a while, but judging by the engine below, turned his attention to aircraft motors with this 2.5cc example that keeps the Dooling style bypass and ported piston. It bears more than a passing resemblance to his Il Pantera, although 1/4 the capacity.

Our thanks to the owner for allowing us to use these photographs and supplying us with information. Google translate and Modellismo for results and articles by Penna.

Alberto Dall'Oglio

Alberto is better known by his AD initials, embossed on his highly successful and much sought after racing engines. Primarily in .06 and .15 sizes. As with so many other successful engine builders, he was neither an engineer or businessman, just an enthusiast building engines for his own use that turned out to be better than a lot of the commercial engines available. Inevitably, as so often happens, engine building did grow into a business where AD engines became extremely sought after because of their superior performance. However twenty or so years ago he ceased manufacture of these, turning his attention to making superb replicas of early Italian motors such as the Antares and SuperTigre G20.

What is less well known is that in 2002 he also produced a beautiful .09 (1.5cc) sized motor, but only for tethered cars. These were loaned to prominent Italian drivers over the years to test but could not quite meet the performance of the Russian motors. Supply of these was becoming increasingly difficult after the deaths of Weiner, Afanasiev and Kapusikov, so there was a ready market for a replacement motor if they proved satisfactory?

AD 09 motor with Zimmerman disc rear end AD 09 with a centrifugal drum induction

Gianni Mateta used an AD motor regularly in the unusual Weiner chassis and around 2018 Alberto started running a car of his own manufacture with an AD motor and also a Kapusikov car, with an AD. This obviously coincided with the onset of covid followed shortly by Alberto becoming ill, bringing this project to an end as Gianni Mattea has not been seen at a track since then either. 

Gianni Mattea's Weiner style car with AD motor

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice the lack of a coupling between the motor and gearbox in each of these photos.

Sadly, Alberto died in December 2023 and so far we have yet to locate an example of the car engine. However, noted speed flyer and engine builder, Dave Smith has sent us photos and a short description of an aero version that he built from original parts.

Approximately 3 years ago I asked my friend the late Alberto Dall'Oglio if he manufactured a front induction low exhaust timed version of his AD 09 tether car engine. He confirmed that he only made the car version. Subsequently he sent me a couple of machined crankcases/brass, low timed liner/piston blanks, bearings etc.

I drew up some drawings in AutoCAD and proceeded to make my version of a front induction engine. On the test bed results are encouraging and I know that Alberto was interested in my efforts.

A second crankcase went to engine guru Taff Bolen who created this 1.5cc diesel. A third motor converted to aero configuration is existence with a drum valve, but as yet, no sighting of an original, tethered car motor.

Thanks to Dave Smith, Salvatore Angeloni and Christoph Zaugg for photos and additional information.

An Innovative Car Collaboration

 The car and motor was a collaborative effort between two Russian 'sports masters' Mikhail Ossipov and Vladimir Maslonkin, a noted speed flyer.

The Ossipov/Maslenkin car FEMA #17

Mikhail Ossipov came from a family firmly rooted in model cars but through DOSAAF met Sergei Kasanov who was to become his mentor, with Ossipov ultimately becoming head coach at the Moscow car model laboratory.

During his career he designed a variety of cars, exploring very different concepts including one of the strangest cars ever, not a sidewinder as such as the engine was vertical but the engine, gearbox tank etc were all in a pan with a straight inner side and a curved outer side with the drive wheels and one front wheel actually outside the car.  See right:-

The car above, built in collaboration with Maslonkin, was more conventional but again had two alternative bridle connections as he regularly experimented with changing the CofG of his cars.

Vladimir Maslonkin became a 'Master of Sport' at an early age through speed flying and by 1974 was working at DOSAAF, the design bureau responsible for so much of the development in Russian model sports. His successes were achieved with his own engines but in 1982 he injured himself whilst flying so turned to building tethered cars and engines under the guidance of Ossipov. This collaboration only lasted a couple of years before Maslonkin had an operation and returned to flying speed, as he said that he missed 'the pull of the model' and 'not being in control'.

Ingenious location and operation for suspension dampers

Almost certainly unique at the time, fully damped suspension with dampers  mounted in a compartment under the pan. The front uses a compression damper and the rear a pull damper, now missing. The compartment is sealed with a slide in cover that involved seriously complex and accurate machining. It would be several years before damping became the norm on tethered cars.

Mikhail Ossipov Maslonkin 2.5cc motor Vladimir Maslonkin

Before returning to flying and retiring from tethered car racing in the late 1980s, Maslonkin made a last trip to Witterswill where he sold his car and two spare engines to multiple European and World 2.5cc champion Peter Arlautzki, who recalled recently that he never made any great speeds with it. Peter sold it on to a SMCC clubmate in 2005 but the car's subsequent history was cut short after just a couple of meetings through a somewhat bizarre accident. At the 2006 European Championships in Pila the car was the first to run after a cable change. For some entirely unknown reason, the cable master did not remove the last of the 1.5cc cars from the track and nor did anyone noticed it as its colour blended in with a banner behind it and that include the person pushing off, perversely not the owner who had been taken to hospital earlier. As the car accelerated and the horser let the cable out, the car hit Jan-Erik Falk's championship winning 1.5 sustaining serious damage. The Ossipov/Maslonkin car was subsequently relegated to the shelf where it has remained ever since.

Thanks to Christoph Zaugg for photos, details and the sad tale of the car's demise. As in all articles that draw material translated from Cyrillic, names are often spelled in a variety of ways, including the two gentlemen here. We have used the same spelling throughout.