The Competition Manager of a firm interested in racing has an interesting but hectic career. His job is to sign on the best drivers— like Keith Prowse with theatre tickets, only instead of the racing driver paying it is the firm which pays him! Having got his drivers the Competition Manager has to ensure that his products are in fact used at all agreed events, and that entails having a proper supply, and good servicing facilities, at all the important competition events.
Naturally, handling men as temperamental as actors or tennis stars in the heat of a motor-race meeting can result in “moments,” but mostly the Competition “Reps” see the game from the inside, which should be compensation for anything.
With the enormous increase in public interest in motor racing we feel that our readers should be able to recognise the Competition “Reps” whom they will need to know if they have ambitions of getting anywhere in racing. So some pocket-biographies and a picture gallery follow. — W.B.
Norman Freeman of Dunlops
Norman William Howard Freeman, to give him his full name, Competitions Manager of Dunlop Rubber Co., Ltd., was born on October 5th, 1892, at Birmingham, and was educated at the Sutton Coldfield Grammar School. His first job was in the Distribution Engineer’s Office of the Birmingham Corporation Gas Department, where he passed final examinations in Gas Engineering, and afterwards became Junior Engineer at a branch works.
In 1920 he joined the Technical Staff of Dunlop Rubber Company, and after four years extensive experience in all departments confined his interests to the racing side. In 1925 he carried out experimental work for the company at Brooklands, and in 1926 accompanied the late Sir Henry Segrave to Daytona Beach, where the Land Speed Record was raised to a speed in excess of 200 m.p.h. for the first time. Again in the following year he was sent over by the Company to Daytona with Sir Malcolm Campbell, and in the same year was appointed Racing Manager of the Dunlop Rubber Co. Then, in 1930, he was put in charge of the Racing and Concessionaires Department, moving from Birmingham to London.
Norman Freeman, besides knowing more about racing tyres than most men, owes not a little of his extraordinary popularity among racing drivers all over the world to a very charming personality. In the preparation of a racing car for a big event, the supply of tyres is of paramount importance, and as a soothing influence on the jaded nerves of a team Freeman has many times proved invaluable.
Few men know intimately so many well-known International drivers—nor have seen so many races all over the world. He is a difficult man to talk to, at Silverstone or at a club, for so many other people want to talk to him at the same time.
He used to run a Talbot 65 saloon for his private use, and today motors in a Mark VII Jaguar. Hobbies — you wouldn’t guess! — music and art. Particularly fond of singing.
Ask racing motorists here, there and everywhere—they all say the same thing, only in more languages than you or I can speak — “A great scout, Freeman of Dunlops!” He is, indeed, the doyen of racing managers.
H.W. Irving of Champion Plugs
Harold W. Irving, Competitions Manager of Champion Sparking Plugs Ltd., of Feltham, has a life-long association with the Motor Trade, commencing with apprenticeship at the Daimler Motor Co.. Ltd., in 1910.
He is a brother to Captain “Jack” Irving, designer of the “Golden Arrow.”
After military service in World War I he joined the Experimental Staff of Alvis. Was chief racing mechanic to the late Major C. M. Harvey until 1928, with considerable success in speed and hillclimbing events.
Leaving Alvis in November 1928 Harold Irving joined the late Sir Henry Segrave and participated with the combination responsible for the designing and building of the “Golden Arrow” (Irving Napier Special), also the boat “Miss England I” for the world record attempts at Daytona Beach and Miami.
Returning to England in 1929 Mr. Irving joined Champions, taking the position of Technical Engineer of the English Company, also taking charge of Sporting and Racing Competition events.
In 1946 he was appointed Chief Engineer.
He has made regular trips to the Champion Company’s factories in the U.S.A. and Canada for liaison with the Company’s Engineering Executives in both countries, and makes regular contacts with vehicle manufacturers in Scandinavia, France and Italy, in addition to manufacturers at home.
He is a founder member of the British Racing Mechanics’ Club.
With one or two exceptions he has probably the longest association with British motor racing both from the Competition side and also from the Accessory Suppliers.
Is a Riley car “fan” — driving a 2.5 litre.
Rex Mundy of K.L.G. Plugs
In 1907 Rex Mundy, Competitions Manager of K.L.G. Sparking Plugs Ltd., entered his first motor-cycle trial on a Triumph in the Auto Cycle Club’s London-Plymouth 24-hour event and won a Gold Medal. It will be noted that in those days the present A.C.U. was only a Club. From then onwards he drove various makes of cars and motor-cycles in races and trials (including International six-day and Scottish six-day trials) both in the British Isles and on the Continent. One of these cars was a Diatto.
In 1912 Mundy rode a Singer in the Senior T.T. Race and a Douglas in the Junior T.T.
In 1913 he rode a Triumph with a Phillipson pulley in the Senior T.T., which in that year was a two-day event, the machines being locked up overnight.
In 1914 he rode a four-cylinder F.N. in the Senior T.T. and then the war came along. During this period Mundy joined the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate and was stationed at the Bristol Aeroplane Co., Ltd., was made Examiner-in-Charge at the Fairey Aviation Co.. Ltd., and later was Transport Manager for the South of England in the, N.A.C.B.. After the war he competed in a few events on both cars, including G.N., S.P.A. and Ansaldo, and motor-cycles, and then joined Bentley Motors Ltd. where he remained until in 1924 he went to K.L.G. Sparking Plugs Ltd. as Technical and Racing Manager.
During these 29 years Mundy has had various motor cars, including a Fiat, Riley, 3-litre Bentley, Vauxhall, Standard, Rover, and is now driving a Humber Hawk.
Reg Tanner of Esso
Reg Tanner, of the Competitions Section of the Esso Petroleum Co., Ltd., writes:
“It is rather interesting that you should ask for these details at the moment as I have just completed my thirtieth year with this company and the whole of that period, apart from the war years, has been connected with the motor-car and motor-cycle racing side.
“I suppose if I give my candid opinion on this matter I should be looked on as one of those old ‘so-and-so’s living in the past, but I think all the old stagers would agree that the present-day motoring fraternity do not get anything like the fun and troubles we used to contend with a quarter of a century ago. Especially having competed in Monte Carlo Rallies twenty years ago and now reading the account of this year’s event. God forbid I should imply that the crews are less hardy than in the past, but the roads today are too good and the motor cars are too comfortable and reliable.
“When it comes to actual races I suppose we can turn round and say the damn things are too reliable, but the same does apply to motor sport today as it did, as far as my memory serves me, 30 years ago. It can only be carried on by the enthusiastic men and not by those who are in it for the money. Probably there are one or two exceptions, but those financially minded are not the motor-racing fraternity that we remember. The same applies to the mechanics. No racing mechanic could ever dare study his Union in the past. No racing driver would ever dare to consider his bank balance and, of course, representatives have no bank balances to worry about. I found during 30 years those that do get fun with very little work are our very gallant Press representatives.
“With regard to the motor cars I drive. Are you referring to those supplied by the firms or their own private cars? The only motor cars that interest me now are the cars that give most miles per gallon, plenty of comfort, plenty of quiet with a maximum speed of 60 m.p.h. chiefly because I must always watch my ‘No Claim’ bonus.”
George Williams of Castrol
George Williams, Competitions Manager of C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd. (Castrol), who is 29, joined the R.A.F direct from school and flew with Coastal Command. During his six years’ service, he completed nearly 2,000 hours flying, mainly in Wellington and Warwick aircraft.
After leaving the R.A.F., he studied for a time at Birmingham University and joined Wakefields in 1948 as a member of the sales staff. After a few weeks, he became an assistant to the then Competitions Manager. E. J. Anderson (“Castrol Andy”). When Anderson retired, a year later, Williams succeeded him.
As Wakefields is a British Company, competition policy is controlled from London and Williams makes many overseas trips liaising with his staff abroad. Keenly interested in international economic problems and production methods, he finds his visits to foreign motor and motor-cycle manufacturers most instructive and he is very appreciative of his many friendships abroad.
Apart from his professional associations, George Williams has always had the greatest interest in competition motoring and has, himself, competed many times in club events and international rallies. He has also acted as pit manager in several record-breaking attempts, notably that of the Austin A40 10,000 miles in 10,000 minutes at Montlhéry in 1950. More recently, as a result of working, closely with Donald Campbell and the late John Cobb, he has acquired a keen interest in high-speed development on water.
George Williams has also been responsible, in association with Richard Habershon, for the production of Castrol films on motor sport and himself spoke the commentary for two of these. His hobbies are golf and motoring and his own car is a Jowett Javelin.
(To be continued)