Book review

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“Road Star Hat Trick,” by Prince Chula of Thailand. 8/6.

These days we get in so much less motoring than formerly, and the weekly motoring Press is so curtailed—MOTOR SPORT too, for that matter—that the library takes on a new significance as a means of sustaining enthusiasm. We have just had an opportunity of reading Prince Chula’s “Road Star Hat trick” and thoroughly recommend it. This book, in smaller type than Prince Chula’s earlier works, runs to 213 pages, wherein is contained a most valuable cross-section of the 1937 and 1938 seasons. “Bira” ran in fifty races in that time, driving E.R.A., Maserati, Delahaye, Delage, B.M.W. and H.R.G. cars, and these are most interestingly dealt with.

From this book one gleans many interesting “behind scenes” facts, and there are notes on the social activities of “Bira” and Prince Chula which make an absorbing background to the racing accounts. The illustrations comprise twenty-one good photographs, and there are tables of “Bira’s” races from 1936 and an analysis of his Gold Star scores. Press reports are quoted liberally, and Prince Chula adds his own pungent comment when he disagrees with them. We were especially interested in the references to the correspondence which took place between the organisers and the entrants concerning the handicapping of the Phoenix Park Race, and to the manner in which “Bira” responded to Prince Chula’s well-known signals in the 1937 T.T., in which “Bira” had permission from Munich to handle a works B.M.W., when the B.M.W. pit-signals had failed to speed him up. As many people believe that the rebuilt Seaman Delage never ran successfully, it is worth noting that although it retired with clutch trouble at Picardie, it was faster in practice than when Seaman drove it and faster than “Bira’s” E.R.A., and at Phoenix Park it lapped at 102.3 m.p.h., equal to “Bira’s” 1936 lap record with the 3-litre Maserati, before retiring with a broken rear spring. It was not raced in 1938.

Naturally, “Bira’s” part in racing is predominant throughout the book, but Prince Chula is delightfully impartial, and his particularly straightforward style of descriptive writing makes his race accounts very easy to follow. As we have said, he is not afraid to be an outspoken critic when the need arises, and a typical example is his exposure of the unnecessary attention which the lay Press devotes to little-women drivers. He observes dryly that “They do not even wear clothes which make anything like as interesting a photograph as a woman lawn tennis player.”  We learn of the interest displayed in the E.R.A. when it was demonstrated in Siam, and, incidentally, that “Bira” always celebrates his victories in water, leaving Prince Chula to the champagne. Having read this book we strongly recommend it as a refresher course to war-depressed enthusiasts. It will not be reprinted, but a few copies are still available from White Mouse Garage, 113a, Dalling Road, London, W.6, at 8/6 each—or less than the cost of five gallons of “Pool.”