Matters of moment, April 1958

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The return of the English racing season

After a particularly hard winter it is good to contemplate the coming motor racing season. This month English motor racing gets off to a good start. At Easter the B.A.R.C. will organise its Bank Holiday Monday Meeting at the improved Goodwood circuit, a meeting which will include a 100-mile F1 race, which it it is hoped will attract entries of B.R.M., Ferrari, Maserati, Cooper and Lotus G.P. cars, a 36-mile F2 race, a 21-lap Le Mans-start over-1,100-c.c. Sports-Car race, a 10-lap 1,100-c.c. Appendix C Sports-Car race and the usual 500-c.c. event—an excellent programme, which gets going at 1.30 p.m. If you require something nearer London the B.R.S.C.C. has a very full programme of racing, sport- and saloon-car races at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday.

On April 12th the B.R.D.C. holds the classic British Empire Trophy Race at the excellent Oulton Park road circuit, the sports-car entry contesting three 20-lap heats and a 25-lap Final, the first heat commencing at 1.15 p.m. On the same day the first V.S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting of 1958, featuring the opening round of this year’s Motor Sport Club Trophy Contest, takes place—what a disaster that these two meetings clash, as they have before.

On the following week-end the B.A.R.C. is active again, running the historic 200-Mile Race at Aintree. F1 and F2 cars will compete together over this traditional distance, which now constitutes a full-length Grand Prix, the Trophy being awarded to the winner, so that a most absorbing contest between the two closely-matched classes should result, again, it is expected, with leading G.P. cars engaged in full-bore battle. There will be two 51-mile Sports-Car races and a 10-lap Saloon-Car contest. If you wish to enjoy the entire programme, get to Aintree before 11 a.m.

April 26th marks the first of the B.A.R.C. Goodwood Members’ Race Meetings counting towards the 1958 Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest. Altogether April is well endowed with first-class motor racing. Remembering that a good “gate” is essential to the continuance of the sport and that with politicians and the Bomb racing could he snuffed out at any time, we hope to see you attending these meetings in record numbers. Gum-boots are, we see, recommended at Goodwood but we hope you will be able to leave duffle-coats and umbrellas in the car!

The R.A.C. meets the clubs

The annual Clubs Conference took place at the R.A.C. on February 28th, club delegates meeting the R.A.C. Competitions Committee in open discussion. There was less on the agenda this year and the discussion was chiefly notable for the frequency with which Lord Howe reiterated that matters would be carefully considered by the Competitions Committee in due course and that the best possible action would no doubt be taken . . .

Many clubs expressed dissatisfaction with the high cost of Competition Licences and the need for competitors in their own clubs’ restricted events to buy a restricted licence. Another pertinent question was whether too many clubs are now permitted to compete in restricted events. The Singer O.C. felt that registration fees payable to the R.A.C. should be on a per capita basis. In all discussions touching on finance the R.A.C. became touchy, remarking, via its C.C. Chairman Lord Howe, that money is essential to the smooth-working of its affairs. For the first time in the history of these conferences it produced a financial statement, to show that the Competitions Department, after earning £13,834 last year, had a deficit of £2,921, salaries costing it £7,211, printing, etc., £3,297, travelling expenses £2,405 and rent, rates, insurance, lighting and heating, etc., £3,842. This does not take into account any profit or loss from R.A.C.-sponsored events. Since the war the R.A.C. has had a deficit of £31,949 arising from its government of motor sport. John Lesty queried the item of insurance that helped to swell the office expenses (presumably the R.A.C.’s charge to the C.C.) to a matter of nearly £75 a week. Lord Howe didn’t know the answer, Dean Delamont didn’t know, and in any case his Lordship said he would have expected the figure to be higher . . .

So the meeting ran to tradition. We were able to drowse in our chairs until the free tea and cakes – knowing that no discussion would be allowed to get out of hand or develop too far – and how nice it was to hear the continual publicity received! – whoever thought of the title of this journal ‘way back in 1925 was certainly a genius.

There was nothing else outstanding apart from statistics, such as the rise in registered clubs from 333 to 353 during last year, when 1,123 permit events were held and 7,108 competition licences issued.

The C.C. was at pains to ensure that no one should think that a competition licence issued by it implies any guarantee of the holder’s competence to drive on the road, John Eason-Gibson retorting that some members of the C.C. have had endorsements on driving licences which, if these were taken as a criterion, would render them quite unable to obtain a competition licence! – he seemed to fix his eyes on the chairman. The R.A.C. was criticised by the Newcastle and Dist. M.C. delegate for sending this year’s R.A.C. Rally competitors to congested Otterburn but after Lord Howe had passed the buck to Maurice Toulmin and he to J. D. Stuart, the last-named as the responsible C.C. member stated an excellent defence case for the R.A.C. The Esso (Fawley) M.C. representative was continually bobbing up and down, wanting the R.A.C. to use its influence with the B.B.C. to obtain radio and T.V. coverage of national rallies(!), and Mr. Sweetman (Sheffield and Hallamshire M.C.) – a man one feels one would like to have at the head of affairs in any club one subscribed to – made an excellent and clear statement on the danger of footpaths, bridle-ways and private land being banned to motor vehicles. The R.A.C. hand-out had this down as referring to “bridal ways” – an equally delicate matter! Holland Birkett provided light relief in the minds of the frivolous by trying to convince the assembly that people don’t mind being woken up and inconvenienced by night rallies providing they have had warning of when and where this is going to happen to them.