With this issue Motor Sport celebrates its Silver Jubilee. To be factual, the very first number appeared on the bookstalls during July, 1924, bearing the title of The Brooklands Gazette, but to be quite certain that we have attained a genuine quarter of a century of publication, we have postponed the celebration of our Silver Jubilee until this issue.
Practically every sport and pastime is served by weekly publications that act as a news-service and by one or more monthly magazines which cover a wide field of interest and constitute a compact review of current happenings. The motoring movement was championed by the Autocar in 1895 joined by the Motor in 1903, but with the demise of a number of other motoring papers before, or at the outbreak of, the Kaiser war, no monthly journal remained to serve the cause in general or the Sport in particular. Nor were any of the weeklies devoted solely to the sporting side of the movement, in spite of the popular interest displayed in racing as soon as it recommenced after the Armistice at Brooklands and elsewhere.
So, in 1924, Radclyffe’s of Victoria Street took a bold step and introduced No. 1 of The Brooklands Gazette — the title of which was changed a year later to Motor Sport, as more fitting to a journal which had no intention of confining its contents to activities at Weybridge alone.
I well remember, as a schoolboy, going with my mother to meet an aunt, “up from the country,” at Marylebone Station and of spotting, a bright star in the otherwise grim firmament of that dingy station, not No. 1 but No. 2 of The Brooklands Gazette. I purchased it as quickly as I could, at the same time placing a firm order for No. 1 and subsequent issues. I have read it regularly ever since, pestering newsagents with the inexhaustible impatience of the young when copies of the twenties and the early thirties were published a few days late — and I was fated to become its Editor at the outbreak of the Second World War.
For their first issue, beautifully produced on art paper and lavishly illustrated, Radclyffe’s collected together some most attractive fare, under their Editor, Oscar E. Seyd, M.J.I. Captain “Archie” Frazer-Nash himself wrote of “Some Thrills with Kim II,” his exceedingly exciting single-seater G.N. racer. C. F. Temple dealt with “Motor Cycling at 113 m.p.h.,” a subject with which he was particularly fitted to deal, having recently exceeded that pace on the complicated Montgomery-British-Anzani. There was a road-test of the 3-litre Bentley and, to show that motor-cycling was to be fostered, another concerning the SS.80 Brough Superior. The centre-spread was occupied by a controversy on “Should the T.T. be Run in England?” George Reynolds saying “Yes,” and George Brown “No.” “Motoring Sportsmen,” a feature that was to live for many years, covered Count Louis Zborowski, alas to lose his life at Monza later that year. Col. Lindsay Lloyd gave readers “Some Pages from Brooklands’ History,” T. W. Loughborough, A.M.I.A.E. took as his subject “The Position of Motor Cycling Sport,” and Tommy Hann, disguised as “The Lounger,” gave the best sort of “Paddock Gossip” from Weybridge. As if that wasn’t enough, Miss Ivy Cummings contributed an article on “The Fascination of Motor Racing,” Captain W. G. Aston wrote of The Evolution of the High Efficiency Engine” and Captain Richard Twelvetrees, A.M.I.Mech.E., dealt with his trip through the London-Edinburgh trial in his radio-equipped Bean tourer. As a matter of interest the advertisers in this very first issue were: Laystall, Warwick Wright, Ltd., British Mercédès, Ltd., Sid Morrarn, Specialloid, Ltd., C. G. Pullin, L. Singleton, Watkins and Doncaster, Ltd., the Ansaldo concessionaires, Discol, Chekko, B. S. Marshall, Ltd., the American Technical Society, Petro-flex, O’Donovan Motors, Douglas Motors, Ltd., Car Mart, Ltd., Speedwell, T. B. Andre and Co., Ltd., James Grose, Ltd., The London Motor Supplies Co., The Light Car Co., The Duscot Mfg. Co., PockIington and Johnson, Henleys, Harm Partners, Tecalemit, K.L.G., Sparton, The Co-operative Insurance Co., Ltd., Crosby Hall, A. T. Speedometer Co., Ltd., Chloride, Vacuum Oil Company, Continental Tyres and B.P., while, as a fitting reminder of how far we had come, Duff and Adlington provided an illustrated front cover advertisement depicting John Duff taking the “Double-Twelve” record at 86.79 m.p.h. with a standard sporting four-seater 3-litre Bentley.
The new magazine was a success from its inception. After a few issues H. Scott Hall, M.I.A.E., took over the Editorship, and in February, 1925, Richard Twelvetrees, A.M.I.Mech.E., M.S.A.E., M.Soc.Ing.C.J.V. (France), attained the Editorial chair. Two years after its introduction, publication was carried on by Radclyffe and Hutchings, Ltd., and L. A. Hutchings became Editor in May, 1927, Twelvetrees remaining as Technical Consultant. Shortly afterwards R. B. Radclyffe joined the staff and Rodney L. Walkerley became Assistant Editor. An attempt was made to form the League of Motor Sportsmen, but the idea petered out. During 1929 Hubert H. S. Keogh edited one issue, and at this period the publishers, with considerable initiative, reprinted Jarrott’s great book “Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing”
All was not well, and the paper began to appear at irregular intervals. Fortunately, towards the end of 1929 a new owner acquired the paper and for nearly ten years Motor Sport went from strength to strength under the guidance of T. G. Moore, a great enthusiast who owned and raced 4 1/2-litre Bentley and Frazer-Nash cars and competed in events such as the Monte Carlo Rally, etc.
W. S. Braidwood, B.A.(Mech.Sc.) (Cantab.) became the first Editor under the new regime, at first from offices in Duke Street, later returning to Victoria Street — he was himself a keen Frazer-Nash exponent and, joined by Grenville G. O. Manton in November, 1930, continued to edit the paper until the middle of 1932. After that he left to open a garage, then studied medicine, passed his examinations and, to-day,practises in Ireland. I think I am right in saying that thereafter T. G. Moore took Motor Sport under his wing, and continued to do so until the present proprietor took over the paper in December, 1936. It was Moore who invited Harold Nockolds, to-day Motoring Correspondent to The Times, to contribute regularly notes on Continental racing.
Some special articles come to mind as we look back down Motor Sport’s lengthy career. Very early in its life the name E. K. H. KarsIake began to appear frequently in its pages. He contributed annual surveys on the past season’s races and the prospects for the next and commenced a long series entitled “Great Racing Marques” which gave many of us our first accurate picture of motor racing history and which some day should be brought up to date and published in book form. It is a fairly open secret, too, I think, that the nom de plume “Baladeur” hides Karslake’s identity and prevents him from receiving even more praise from all over the globe than he gets now for his inimitable “Sideslips.” To Kent Karsiake we owe, also, those fascinating “Veteran Types” articles in which historic and preferably exciting early cars are delightfully written-up for us as they exist in the present day and age, it being a sort of unwritten rule that the cars described shall have been driven on the road. This great series, which did so much to further the present Edwardian movement, commenced with “Chitty Bang Bang II” and has by no means expired. During the war those other knowledgeable veteranists, Cecil Clutton and Anthony Heal, contributed some of the articles, but recently Karslake himself has resumed the helm, assisted at times by his war-time collaborators.
Motor Sport has always had a soft spot in its make-up for the true-blue, oil-soiled enthusiast and perhaps that is why Eric Fernihough’s passenger was persuaded to describe the good and not-so-good aspects of “Ferni’s” single-cylinder record-breaking Morgan three-wheeler, and why someone told of an odd car he built from a pre-1914 6-h.p. Peugeot chassis and a s.v. J.A.P. V-twin engine, Harry Bowler was permitted to describe the Waverley-G.N. and such-like hybrids he played with when he should have been studying at Cambridge and someone else his Morris-Cowley-powered G.N., while I was allowed to drool about a 1923 A.B.C. and a 1924 Rhode, the combined purchase of which set me back a matter of 230s.
We even had articles on amateur-built aeroplanes — there was, at one time, a strong “Air” and “Water” section — and other contributions which for some reason or other come to mind covered work in a cyclecar factory where the oddest things occurred, a fascinating pocket-description of what Brooklands Track was, and felt like, a technical series on classic Grand Prix and other racing cars of the 1934-5 period and leading articles on famous British sports cars and the factories in which they were conceived and manufactured. The “Motoring Sportsmen” series continued in various forms and embraced all the famous drivers from Campbell, Segrave, Mays, Guinness, and Howe downwards. A parallel series around 1926-28 covered the racing motor-cyclists.
Road tests were naturally a prominent activity, including some very hard rides, and even races, on the part of various past Editors and staff, on both cars and motor-cycles. At one time Rodney Walkerley, to-day “Grande Vitesse ” of the Motor, rode the two-wheelers for us, and before that L. A. Hutchins had ridden a wide variety of bicycles critically, not to mention with decided verve! The cars tested ranged from a Villiers-engined Nomad that had no suspension other than that provided by its Dunlop Balloons to a “38/250” Mercédès-Benz. At one time early Salmsons, Amilcars, Senechals and the like were tried out in the Box Hill area of Surrey and elsewhere. How long ago that seems! These tests provided plenty of off-therecord experiences, of which I had my share even before I joined the paper in a full-time capacity — there was, for instance, a spell of twenty-four hours during which a straight-eight saloon we were testing ran out of petrol at midnight (she has since joined her parents in South Africa!), had to be towed up a trials hill by a huge farm horse, broke its clutch and finally met the world’s worst ice patch in the early a.m. on the Oxford Road; and a certain American saloon which swayed so much in storming Lythe Right that, at the summit of that famous gradient none of the doors would open, so effectively had the overhanging trees dented the roof. There was also a steering column that “came off in our hands” at speed along the Kingston By-Pass and a car which caught fire on Brooklands.
Motor Sport developed a reputation for accurately reporting these road tests, such adventures apart, and valuable advertising was lost when a certain British sports saloon did 98 m.p.h. but just wouldn’t reach the magic century, while I once spent a long afternoon at Brooklands with another sports car while the maker’s representatives did all they knew to make it clock 90, whereas it was flat out at 86.
So Motor Sport ran its course until, by 1937, I was contributing more and more frequently to its pages. T. G. Moore, who had lost interest some time before and had sold it to Mr. W. J. Tee, the present proprietor. In August, 1939, Mr. Tee acquired Speed, which had been edited by Alan Hess, and which, with The Brooklands Gazette, is now incorporated in Motor Sport.
After serving a sort of apprenticeship under the late Humphrey Symons on the now-defunct Brooklands — Track and Air, I had turned to general free-lance motoring journalism. Not only did many road test cars come my way, but I reported for Motor Sport at Broollands, Donington, the Crystal Palace, Southport, Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, Lewes, Dancer’s End, Brighton, Backwell, Joel Park, Aston-Clinton, Chalfont and countless other venues. When war came it seemed expedient to close down the paper. After a voluble few minutes in Mr. Tee’s presence, however, I persuaded him that I could continue to fill Motor Sport’s pages throughout the period of hostilities, and a four-page October, 1939, stand-over issue was hurriedly produced. Thereafter Motor Sport, suitably inflated again, ran throughout the war years without missing a single issue — we even weathered the power-cuts in the winter of 1947. I take no credit for this, for without the tremendous enthusiasm, energy and willing co-operation of countless contributors, many of them entirely unknown to me, we should scarcely have gone to bed with a single issue. Their help and co-operation were unstinted and constituted a source of stimulation to me as I edited their “copy” — often scribbled during off-duty hours in a Service mess and subsequently censored — in my own off-duty hours (for not until after hostilities ceased could I devote my full time to Motor Sport) frequently amid the crumps of bombs or the whine of flying missiles. Cecil Clutton, Anthony Heal, Laurence Pomeroy, Joseph Lowrey, the late F. L. M. Harris, John Bolster, Raymond Mays, Kenneth Neve and other persons too numerous to mention individually, responded nobly to my call for “copy,” and many were the specialist articles that were written at my behest without thought of payment or reward. I did my best to stimulate enthusiasm by publishing news of all the interesting cars I could lay hands on, by putting lonely Service personnel in touch with one another, by taking a census of sports cars operating on supplementary fuel and by listing a register of rare cars, veterans and spare parts that were still on the market. The latter feature, incidentally, was directly responsible for several old cars which now compete in veteran-car events going to their present owners. We taught much motor racing to newcomers, at the same time providing a concise reference for old-timers, with articles on 1 1/2-litre racing, from 1935 to 1939, on the rise to superiority of the German teams, and with a discourse on racing car evolution from 1895 to 1933 to which Messrs. Clutton, Heal, Pomeroy and Scafe contributed. These articles were supplemented by Clutton’s studies of the evolution of the sports car, and the Edwardian renaissance, and Scafe’s masterful discourse on the history of aerodynamic bodywork. I also sought to recall some great British achievements.
Mr. Tee reminds me of one disturbing experience when, within a few days of closing a war-time issue for press and with no paper supplies in hand, it was learned that the new supplies had left the mill but their whereabouts remained a mystery) Subsequently it transpired that this paper came down from Edinburgh round the shelled and mined coasts of Britain and that the little ship carrying it docked on time in spite of the worst the enemy could do. So we survived that difficulty and then, when the blitz on the City of London occurred, it seemed that the only building in the vicinity that was standing, amid the dust and flames of destruction, was the one marked by the well-known clock, in which this paper was printed and produced.
For five long years we got through much history in these pages, then petrol was restored to us (save the mark!) and events began to be organised again. Helped by staunch advertisers such as Joseph Lucas, Jubilee Clips, Ferodo, Dunlop, Lodge, Allard and others, Motor Sport emerged unscarred, to take on a new lease of life.
Of our post-war career little need be said. Valued contributors have given the same support as they did during the war and authoritative articles on famous vintage and modern sports cars, the “Veteran Types” series, technical discourses and descriptions, and our well-known detailed and outspoken road test reports on high-performance cars — the latter only limited in number by manufacturers’ production difficulties and the chronic petrol restrictions — have been resumed. Illustrated reports of sprint meetings and races naturally figure largely during the summer months, but the “magazine aspect”of the paper has not been unduly sacrificed as a result — although, like so many of our contemporaries, until recently at all events, lack of paper seriously restricted our activities. A few “stop press” reports of important races have been brought off, Le Mans included, for which purpose Douglas Dakota, Percival Proctor, Avro Anson, D.H. Rapide and Airspeed Consul aircraft have been used. “Club News” remains a now somewhat inappropriately titled but widely appreciated news feature that was developed during the war, while “Rumblings,” another regular feature of miscellaneous items, originated in the very early days of the paper, when it was the preserve of “Boanerges,” and we have seen no reason to change the heading. Readers’ letters, too, receive almost as much space to-day as they did in those palmy days when Motor Sport was a young and then-unproved periodical. The Silver Jubilee messages from past Editors and notable contributors, published elsewhere in this issue, will be read with interest by both old-timers and the present generation.
So time has marched along, Bentley, Bugatti and Mercédès giving place to Jaguar, Jowett and Allard, the sports cars of our leather-coated youth refined into the high-performance cars of 1949. Vast changes though we have seen, enthusiasm has risen to new peaks and public interest in motor racing has never been greater. We make mistakes and experience our set-backs, but it is our hope that Motor Sport will continue to serve the Sport as effectively in the future as it has done for the past quarter of a century. — W. Boddy.
Looking back at Le Mans, there is no doubt but that this race remains the greatest sports-car classic of the year. The victory achieved by the 2-litre Ferrari driven by Chinetti and Lord Selsdon in both the G.P. d’Endurance and the Rudge Cup, is not only a further triumph to the credit of a new marque which is beginning to make its presence very definitely felt in 2-litre and sports-car racing, but justifies the more complex and expensive design, for the winning car had a V12 o.h.c. light-alloy engine, tubular frame, five-speed gearbox, and other advanced features. That transmission maladies and trouble with the reserve oil supply might have caused the Ferrari to retire had the race lasted another hour detracts scarcely an iota from its great achievement. The 3-litre Delage which Louveau and Jover brought home in second place certainly could not be said to have had a trouble-free run, but it was nice to see this great French make so highly placed; a fine indication, too, of its potency while it was running. The very warmest praise must be bestowed on the new 2-litre Frazer-Nash which Culpan and Aldington brought home in third place. Before the war, if a British make finished even quite low down the list our joy was unbounded, and now we have one of our newest really-high-performance cars placed without question at Le Mans, its only real bother a faulty clutch.
We were obliged to fly back with the report (published last month) soon after the race ended, when Morel’s Talbot was still officially given as finishing fourth. Actually this car failed to complete its last lap and was not placed, nor was the Veuillet/ Mouche Delage. The positions given for the British cars, therefore, require revision, the Hay/Wisdom Bentley being 6th, the Jones/Haines Aston-Martin 7th, the Thompson/Fairman H.R.G. 8th, the Lawrie/Parker Aston-Martin 11th, and the Bartlett/ Mann Healey 13th — a list that is a real credit to this country. Another error we wish to correct is that Phillips’ M.G. was flagged-in for going too slowly. It was actually going nicely when the condenser gave trouble and the car was flagged-in because co-driver Dryden disregarded the regulations by letting a mechanic go out to the stranded car from the pits.
That Hay’s pre-war, normally-used, 4 1/2-litre Bentley saloon came in sixth at 73.56 m.p.h., in spite of a tyre-change and loss of its over-drive top gear, is a remarkable tribute to a magnificent car. Rolls-Royce Ltd. helped a little in its preparation, but it was by no means as specialised as the Eddie Hall open car of T.T. days. Aston-Martin failed to repeat their last year’s Spa victory, but did well to get a 2-litre saloon home behind the Bentley, at 72.52 m.p.h., and H.R.G. won the 1 1/2-litre class at 67.83 m.p.h. We commented last month on the excellent show put up by Lawrie and Parker in a 1949 three-seater Aston-Martin.
The class winners were: — Up to 750 c.c.: Krattner/Sutnar (Aéro Minor), 61 m.p.h. 751 to 1,100 c.c.: Montremy/Dussos (Monopole), 64 m.p.h. 1,101 to 1,500 c.c.: Thompson/Fairman (H.R.G.), 67 m.p.h. 1,501 to 2,000 c.c.: Chinetti/Aldington (Ferrari), 82 m.p.h. 2,001 to 3,000 c.c.: Louveau/Jover (Delage), 81 m.p.h. 3,001 to 5,000 c.c.: Grignard/Brunet (Delahaye), 73 m.p.h. Again, British showing was good, the Bentley being second in the big-car class, Frazer-Nash second and Aston-Martin third and fourth in the 2-litre class, and H.R.G. winning the 1 1/2-litre category.
Turning to the race in general, the pre-war tendency to use enclosed aerodynamic bodywork at Le Mans seems to have partially halted, for out of 49 starters only nine were of this type, although, of the 19 finishers, four were saloons. Retirements were eventually listed as: Loss of water, five; unspecified engine trouble, four; crashed, three; big-end failure, two; piston trouble, two; overheating, two; clutch trouble, two; broken crankshaft, two; unspecified mechanical trouble, two; fire, one; seizure, one; dynamo failure, one; fuel-feed trouble (diesel), one; fuel-feed trouble, one; flagged-in, one.
Brakes must have had a trying time in the heat, at the speeds at which all classes of the race were run, and brake failure may have been a contributory cause of Marechal’s sad crash. The bodywork on the Aston-Martins to some extent prevented a full flow of air on to the brake drums, but, against this, the winning Ferrari and the Bentley also had shrouded wheels and apparently suffered no difficulties in this direction.
It might have been thought that closed bodywork would have provided protection in the event of a crash but this was not so in the case of Pierre Marechal. We would like to offer our profound sympathy to Mrs. Marechal; an obituary notice is published in this issue.
We commented last month on the magnificent grandstands and pits, which make those at Silverstone look pathetic. But remember that the A.C. de l’Ouest obtains a Government grant towards the £130,000 which it costs to prepare Le Mans for its one great race a year — assistance fully justified by the fact that a crowd variously estimated at 120,000 to over 180,000 attended throughout the race, incidentally, in perfect safety so well is the circuit protected. The Programme Officiel was beautifully produced, with new photographs of all the drivers and cars, save where a blank was explained by the cryptic comment “photographic non parvenue.” And the manner in which the 4 1/4-litre Bentley saloon used as a course-patrol car was driven was, alone, a revelation to British visitors. Yes, Le Mans has thoroughly re-established itself and the success of the 1950 race is assured.
— And Spa
The dramatic Spa race consolidated the success of Chinetti and the Ferrari and again demonstrated the efficiency of the British cars. Chinetti won outright as at Le Mans — save that, at Spa, there is really no outright winner. Push-rod Aston-Martin saloons were placed second and third in the 2 to 4-litre and up to 2-litre classes, respectively, and Horsfall again demonstrated his ability by bringing his rebodied 1935 o.h.c. Aston-Martin two-seater home second in the 2-litre class, less than 65 miles behind the Ferrari. Peter Clark’s H.R.G.s won the Coupe du Roi Albert Team Prize for the second year in succession, although limping round at the end with piston, dynamo, fuel-pump and other troubles, these cars, with Brock’s coupé H.R.G., dominating the 1 1/2-litre class. But perhaps the Jowett Javelin saloon driven by Hume and Wisdom put up the best show of all, for it covered a greater distance than any other 1 1/2-litre car in winning the touring-car category. It was a virtually standard car, greatly hampered by wide gear ratios, but with slightly increased compression-ratio, careful assembly of the flat-four engine and reduction of weight by leaving out some of the interior furnishings. It averaged over 65 m.p.h. for 1,573.92 miles, beating the fastest H.R.G. by 10 miles, and was undismayed even when Hume caught and broke a finger in the glove-locker lid — but it did not beat the Brambilla/Bassi F.I.A.T. which won the 1,100-c.c. class.
Spa was very hard on shock-absorbers, but the retirements totted up to: Unspecified engine trouble, five; broken piston, two; plug trouble, one; broken crankshaft, one; broken oil pipe, one; faulty differential, one; back-axle trouble, one; unspecified transmission trouble, one; gearbox trouble, one; broken propeller-shaft, one; loss of track-rod (Folland’s AstonMartin), one; crashed, one.
This year’s two 24-hour sports-car races have been both instructive and dramatic and must be repeated.