ON March 20th, the Royal Automobile Club issue d a statement which damns any hope of holding a war-time competition on a peace-time footing. Certain enthusiasts have been working very hard in an endeavour to organise a war-time sports-car race of short duration. Purely as a matter of policy, they put their proposal to the Department of Mines, and the matter is receiving official consideration. There is no law banning motor-racing in war-time, and as far as is known, there is no reason why martial legislation should frown on the proposed race. The Secretary for Mines was only approached to ensure that no public opposition should arise out of a false assumption that fuel other than that due to a competitor as his basic ration would be burned during the race. It was felt that if the Department of Mines did not raise its hands in horror at the thought of a brief contest between sports-cars taxed for road use (and thus entitled to approximately 200 miles worth of Pool spirit each for each month’s tax-payment), then the R.A.C. would have no possible objection to issuing the necessary Permit for the event in question.
Now, before the Department of Mines has replied to what was virtually a private memorandum from the sponsors of this proposed race, the R.A.C. has issued a statement which removes any possible hope of getting a Permit for the event. This statement reads as follows :
The question of the holding of competitions for cars—races, hill climbs, speed events, reliability trials—during wartime, has received the earnest consideration of the Competitions Committee of the Royal Automobile Club, and it has now been decided that whilst existing conditions prevail the Club will not grant a Permit to hold any such competition.
The reasons which animated the R.A.C. in coming to this decision are as follows:—
The Secretary for Mines has stated that the basic petrol ration is granted to enable owners of private cars to make use of them to a limited extent for necessary domestic purposes. Whilst such purposes undoubtedly include a certain amount of essential recreation, participation in motor racing, speed events, or reliability trials, could not he regarded as coming under this head.
Such competitions as could he held would not have at the present time any technical or military value, and could not therefore he justified on either of these grounds.
The public is aware of the many reasons which necessitate the strictest economy in the use of petrol, and would view with disfavour its use in motoring competitions at the present time.
A very large proportion of the motoring clubs in the country have already announced the suspension of their competition activities for the duration of the war. Such clubs would be opposed to any attempts by a few of the remaining Clubs to carry out a programme of competitions.
We published the arguments in favour of holding the race last month, and you know how sensible and convincing they were. The race cannot now be held under R.A.C. Permit, and even if the sponsors, perhaps encouraged by a favourable reply from the Department of Mines, attempt to ignore the R.A.C., a reasonable entry is highly unlikely. In peacetime, certain parties wished to ignore the R.A.C., but we have always found the Competitions Committee extremely fair and generally helpful arid have deplored any attempt to hold non-Permit contests. In any case, this would only be successful if a general breakaway resulted, because any driver competing in a non-Permit event is prevented by the R.A.C. from competing in any Permit contest, not only in this country, but in every country where the A.I.A.C.R. ruling is in force. For this very reason, this R.A.C. statement bans the possibility of the war-time race—and destroys any hope of an occasional sprint or trial. Meanwhile, the A.C.U. permits motor-bicycle trials almost weekly. Frankly, we completely fail to understand the…..