Matters of Moment, April 1950
The British Racing Season Commences
The 1950 British racing season commences on Easter Monday at Goodwood with the International Meeting of the B.A.R.C. The racing will comprise the 11-lap Formula I Richmond Trophy race, five-lap scratch races for 500-c.c., 1,100-c.c. blown and 2,000-c.c. unblown, and unlimited cars, and five-lap handicaps. It will be in full swing by May 13th, when Their Majesties the King and Queen will watch the most important Formula I race of the year, the G.P. d’Europe, to be held at our Silverstone circuit under R.A.C. organisation. During the year racing will take place also at Blandford, Ludsgate, Brough, Brands Hatch, St. Andrews, Grangemouth, Croft, the I.O.M., Jersey, Newtownards, Redcar and Dundrod. There is no doubt but that motor sport will be more popular than ever this year, for the splendid B.B.C. broadcasts on the Monte Carlo Rally lifted enthusiasm amongst the public to new heights, and the Royal Patronage for the G.P. d’Europe will more than sustain it. We shall expect the attendance at Silverstone on May 13th to easily exceed the vast number of 120,000 who last year paid to see the British Grand Prix.
Not only racing, but speed trials, speed hill-climbs, rallies, driving tests, night trials, mud trials, socials—indeed, all versions of motor sport—look like enjoying a boom season, more particularly if the newly-elected Government sees fit to take petrol off the ration, as have Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany and many other countries.
However, the real measure of motor-racing popularity will rest with how much it costs spectators to see it. Organisers are sadly weighed-down by a grossly unfair Entertainments Tax, a matter to which the B.A.R.C. wisely gave prominence last year. But it is to be hoped that, generally, admission charges and parking fees can be lowered this year. Motor-racing is still, comparatively, a very expensive sport to watch.
The B.A.R.C., for instance, has had to raise its charges for admission to this year’s improved Goodwood circuit. New members will have to pay £5 5s. over and above their subscriptions for a season’s admission for themselves and a friend or 26s. and 10s. car-park fee for single admission to any one meeting. This gives rise to nostalgic comparisons with Brooklands pre-war, when a member and two ladies were admitted free and the public for 5s. or 2s. 6d., a nob, according to the rates prevailing. But it goes to emphasise the state to which this sorry little Island has sunk, although, of course, it must be realised that much good work has been put into spectators’ and Members’ amenities at Goodwood, all of which have absorbed money. Indeed, we think that these improvements are going to so impress those who journey to Goodwood at Easter that there was really no need for the B.A.R.C. to attempt to explain away its increased admission charges by listing the contractors’ cost of erecting seats for two at two meetings, the entertainment duty and the cost of a couple of enamel brooches last year as totalling £3 4s., the inference being that each member who attended cost the Club a 1s. loss, because a season’s admission was then £3 3s. The general opinion seems to be that if you put up your grandstand before each meeting and pull it down afterwards that is your affair and that a good grandstand should last twenty years anyway, whereupon this ingenious argument holds no water whatsoever . . .
The R.A.C. has announced its admission charges to the G.P. d’Europe as £2 2s. per person to the main grandstand opposite the pits, 30s. a head in the Stowe and Woodcote stands, and admission to enclosures at 6s. a nob if booked in advance, or 7s. 6d. a nob on May 13th. Car parking will be 10s. per car, £10 for a 32-seater coach, £17 for a 54-seater coach—which sounds fair enough. Book now, with the R.A.C. Race Office, 85, Pall Mall, London, S.W.1. The R.A.C. has announced that the Grand Prix will be a 200-mile Formula I race, starting at 2.30 p.m., and that it will be preceded by two five-lap heats and a 10-lap Final for 500-c.c. cars, this latter being an International Formula III race. Spectator marshals will be selected from clubs using Silverstone this year and only club secretaries should negotiate.
So far as other circuits are concerned, we shall watch with interest the charges made for admission and parking, hopeful that reduced rates may prevail. We believe that comparatively low charges will be made for watching National 500-c.c. races at Brands Hatch, but that, even so, these may not be so modest as those which apply to motor-cycle meetings at this venue. So far as testing is concerned, while there is nothing approaching the happy state of affairs which existed at Brooklands—free use of the Track to members, a charge of 5s. per motor-cycle, 10s. per car per day otherwise—Silverstone costs £2 2s. a day, plus 8s. insurance, or £26 5s., plus insurance, for a Trade or Press season ticket. Incidentally, a standard club-circuit has now been laid out and if all clubs agree to race over this, the hire of Silverstone for race meetings will cost them £26 5s. a day, irrespective of number of entries, this charge including the permit fee, fencing and straw bales (oh dear!) but not insurance.
The B.A.R.C. has announced that “general practising facilities at Goodwood will be made available according to demand.” Spectators will be admitted on Easter Saturday, and there will be a general day of practice on April 22nd.
Altogether, the cost of motor-racing, both to spectator and competitor, seems to be coining down, if almost imperceptibly, and, in suggesting that this coming season will establish new records for attendance and enthusiasm, we wish all of you Good Sport.