Chain Chatter, April 1950
With the season now under way, the road-racing fraternity look like being pretty busy. At one time, shortly after the war, there seemed to be a very serious shortage of racing venues, but now, in the fifth post-war season, it would seem that the reverse is the case. There is going to be such a glut of road racing that the time is fast approaching when the meetings will begin to suffer through lack of good entries, not necessarily in quantity but in quality, for the top-line lads will be unable to meet every week-end, especially now that many meetings are being restricted to Pool petrol. Whether this increase of road-racing circuits is altogether desirable is a doubtful point, for while most of them have good points a lot of them lack just that little extra to make them first-class circuits of the calibre of Donington Park of pre-war days. Perhaps the most notable of the post-war circuits is that at Blandford Camp in Dorset. With a solo lap speed of close to 90 m.p.h. it can certainly be classed as real road racing, and embodying, as it does, many fast corners and gradients it is the nearest approach to a first-line road-racing circuit. It falls down on one point, and an important one into the bargain, in that it is rather narrow and causes the A.C.U. to forbid mass-start sidecar racing. There is no doubt that a sidecar race is an important part of any road-race meeting and it is it great pity that any such race should be doomed, its a first-class race, at this circuit by having to demand that competitors start at time intervals, for there surely is nothing to compare with a massed-start race. However, as a solo circuit it is magnificent and an important point is that the authorities in charge of the camp are dead keen on racing. Some excellent meetings have been held thee over the past two seasons, but a new and vital note will be struck at the end of this month when the A.C.C. hold their International meeting there. It is rather unfortunate that the date chosen should clash with two established Continental International meetings, one in Belgium and the other in Switzerland, and it is probable that the quality of the entry will suffer due to this. Bearing in mind that the month of August becomes rather slack for road racing it would seem that the A.C.U. have been a little short-sighted in the choice of their date. Nevertheless, it is heartening to see them organise their first post-war International road-race meeting, apart from the T.T., and it is hoped that other clubs in this country will be able to attain International status before long for their meetings.
One of the most promising circuits, and organisations for that matter, is that at Scarborough where the circuit runs round Oliver’s Mount over some of the most exacting and interesting roads one could wish for. While the Scarborough and District M.C.C.’s meetings can never hope to rank as even “near” classic events, the circuit being unsuitable for this, they do deserve to be allowed International status, for the organisation leaves nothing to be desired, the meetings have the full support of the borough council, even to financial assistance, and what is more one of this year’s meetings is again being backed by the News Chronicle. The whole set-up with the Scarborough meetings is identical to many or the smaller Continental International meetings, such as the Circuit of Pau, the Circuit of Lugano or the Circuit of San Remo, and it would be an excellent thing for this country if the 1951 F.I.M. Calendar could contain a date for the Circuit of Scarborough.
Another venue which could be developed into a typical Circuit event is that at Weston-super-Mare. Again the meetings have had the full support of the corporation, essential item this, and people who rode at the race meeting held last year, up-the-road-and-back-down-the-promenade, voted it very good fun. After all, Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland have a large number of International Circuit races, enough to fill most weekends throughout the season, whereas England, who provided three of the five World Champions in 1949, had only one lnternational race meeting, the T.T., which stands alone in being a rather special event and anyway lines up in status with the Swiss G.P., Belgian G.P., etc. This country lacks the smaller International meetings and it is difficult to see the reason for it; we certainly have the organisations, Bemsee and Scarborough are quite capable, and we have the circuits, especially when they are financed by the local borough councils.
Returning to home events again Silverstone is to be used for motor-cycle racing, but not, very often, for it, is only clubs as large as the B.M.C.R.C. who can stand the financial strain of meeting the R.A.C.’s wishes, and anyway it is not it good circuit for motor-cycle racing, as anyone who rode there last October will tell you. Aerodromes on the whole have never proved satisfactory for road racing, due mainly to being flat with too much width and a lack of “edging” to the course. Even so, aerodromes continue to be used at the meetings receive good entries. The little circuit at Brough Aerodrome is very popular with the Northern short-circuit riders and always caters well for sidecar racing. The new circuit at Thruxton Aerodrome on Salisbury Plain promises to prove interesting but will doubtless suffer from the usual aerodrome troubles. The Antelope Club have, of course, opened the season with another meeting a Ansty Aerodrome, a very popular circuit, but it can never be considered to be road racing, although the quality of the entries at past meetings has been of a very high order. One hears rumours of yet another aerodrome circuit, being opened at Gravesend, but little is known, although due north, on the other side of the Thames, all hope has not been lost for regaining the use of the aerodrome at Stapleford Tawney, near Aldridge. Used in 1947, this aerodrome, having no runways, was the nearest approach to road racing of any flying-field circuit.
The genuine “short circuit,” which is rapidly calling for a special motor-cycle for each meeting, is very popular, and Cadwell Park, the most well-established of the present day, still caters for all classes and absolutely first-class meetings are held there regularly throughout the season. In Brands Hatch, in Kent, is the Southern counterpart of the Lincolnshire track and these two between them will keep the “ear-ole” boys very busy indeed, and if at any time they need a change there are the meetings held by the Waterloo Club at Altcar Rifle Range, and the Wyle Valley Camp meetings. With the rather out-of-the-way circuit at Eppynt, in Wales, holding meetings, the road-racing lads certainly cannot complain of having nowhere to race. While there is an abundance of beginners’ tracks, it is a pity that there is no really first-class circuit of Grand Prix length on the top flight riders can show their skill, both solo and sidecar. Continental countries have all got one big advantage over this country when it comes to racing, an advantage which most people in this country would like but are too old-fashioned to make provision for, and that is that the Continentals hold their road races on the road!