WHY COMPETITION MOTORING IS PHYSICALLY BENEFICIAL.
By LIEUT.-COL. F. S. BRERETON, C.B.E., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (Chairman of the Auto-Cycle Union ; Vice-President of the Federation Internationale des Clubs Motocyclistes). IT would be interesting to learn what proportion of
the thousands of fascinated and often excited spectators who find their way to Brooklands or other racing tracks, or who watch the classic T.T. and other events, fix their attention mainly on the machine hurtling round the track, or over the course, and what number let their thoughts flow in the direction of the man who handles the individual vehicle. We are apt to speak glibly enough of the benefits of racing to automobile and motor cycle design. “Improve the breed” is a facile saying, and secretaries of clubs and organisers of events constantly trot it out and put it in the limelight. Undoubtedly, too, the science of engineering as applied in particular to the design and construction and the materials employed in the manufacture of the automobile and the motor cycle, has been enormously assisted and advanced by the experience gained in motor racing. It would require all the pages enclosed in this handsome edition of the BROOKLANDS GAZETTE, aye and more, to set out, even in brief detail, all the component parts that have been modified in design, scrapped, re-designed and yet again re-designed as a result of lessons learnt in racing. The influence extends right back to and beyond the metallurgical laboratory ; so that to-day the machine you see hurtling before you, is a vast improvement in every respect from that which first tooilc the road in this or any other country, from the tread of the tyres which support it, to the minutest hidden detail ; the whole apparatus is revolutionised. Yet, as every thinking man knows, the car and the motor cycle have not reached finality,
nor ever will, because more experience of competition work produces more and more lessons, and the designer is forced to accept new ideas and to seek for still greater perfection. So much for the machine ; but what of the man—the more important factor in the racing unit ? He is as he was constructed, and as he will remain till the end of
all time. Perhaps he has little differences, if you like, here and there, but re-designing is out of the question.
In man, in fact, is material created to one pattern, but capable of alteration in minute yet all important respects so as to fit him for almost any undertaking. Motor racing is, I maintain, an undertaking almost more strenuous, in its own particular direction, than any other sport or pastime. It seems somehow ludicrous
to suggest that the man who sits seemingly at ease in a racing car or on a motor cycle needs to be fitter, stronger, more alert than the champion boxer, for instance, who is trained to the last point, and able to stand up in a gruelling contest lasting through perhaps twenty rounds. It seems remarkable to suggest that the racing motorist must be fitter than the athlete who takes a strenuous part in the Olympiad. Yet this submision
is not altogether overdrawn, because in athletic contests, in boxing, in every sport you like to consider, while victory and defeat are in the balance, the result is limited to those two factors. In motor racing, on the other hand, one slip, one failure to. act in some special way on some unexpected and suddenly arising emergency, means perhaps—death. It may involve also the lives of other people, a tragedy such as has happened before now on racing tracks, but fortunately not in England. The argument follows that the man who sits so seemingly at ease on a famous racing machine is a man of iron nerve in the fittest possible condition. One does not suggest that his muscles are harder than, or nearly as hard as, those of the gymnast, but of necessity his sight, his
hearing, his brain, every part of his body must be in perfect condition, every movement co-ordinated, his senses alert, ready to act instantly, whatever the demand made on him. Can any ordinary man claim to be in this condition ? Can the office worker, for instance, imagine himself so fitted as to undertake, without consistent training,
the physical effort required in motor racing ? Yet a clerk may aspire to become one of our crack racers. But having aspired, he must set to work to fit himself for the ordeal. And this can only be done by a long and consistent system of specialised training. Likewise those who have already climbed to the seats of the mighty on racing car or motor cycle, must keep
themselves in such condition as to be able to continue their successful racing ; for competition is keen, and success is for the fittest. The designer and the manufacturer have the cars and the motor cycles, capable of great speeds and of long
endurance. If the human element does not fail, then there will be no lack of events, and fortunately there is evidence that the human element tends to excel even the wonderful machines that are nowadays placed at its disposal.
I will not go so far as to suggest that motor racing is better for the individual than those athletic contests for which less strenuous training and perhaps more lenient discipline are required, but I do assert that, as every one knows, motor racing demands physical excellence, that it attracts a large number of ambitious people, and that inasmuch as physical excellence is a sine qua non, the pastime of motor racing is of direct physical benefit to those who take part in it.
Let, therefore, the general public who attend and watch machines hurtling by them in great speed contests give more than a passing thought to the man who sits in control, looking perhaps quite comfortable, yet actually tense, eager, ready for the unexpected event whenever it happens. His prowess at the wheel or in the saddle has made possible those continuous changes of design which have produced present day excellence in our cars and motor cycles. His nerve and skill have, indirectly it may be, given us a perfection which fifteen years ago seemed out of the question, and his effort has resulted not only in all round improvement, but in such detailed changes that the car and motor cycle of to-day is, as stated earlier, utterly unlike and infinitely superior, to those that have gone before. A word as to what may be advisable in those ambitious to take up motor racing. Moderation in drinking and
eating and in the use of tobacco is suggested primarily ; open air life as far as possible, and exercise. The exercise need not necessarily be of a violent nature, but the sort of exercise that one might obtain while overhauling and testing a motor car or motor cycle intended for racing. ‘Early to bed and early to rise . . .” is as true an adage as ever it was, and the continual practice of the power of observgtion is essential. Errors of vision, an inclination to dyspepsia, and trifling ailments should receive skilful and immediate attention and advice. With this, such ailments can, in the majority of cases, be easily rectified. The nerve, alertness, the savoir faire so vitally important in all racing men, will come by experience—swiftly with some men, more slowly with others.
After all, your racing man is made, not born. Yet it is fair to suggest that a reversal of this statement may be equally true, and that your racing man, like your air pilot, (the really good one), is frequently born to it, takes to it as a duck to water and excels easily where others achieve triumphs with relatively great difficulty.
Finally, to pass on the views of the Auto-Cycle Union, to be a racing man means essentially to be a fit man, and none but those in the fittest stage should be allowed to undertake what is otherwise a pastime dangerous to the individual and possibly also to the public.