"Motor Sport" Jubilee Letters, August 1949

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From T. G. Moore, Esq., who was Chairman and Editor of Motor Sport from 1929 until 1936:

As a former Chairman and Editor of Motor Sport, I feel I must send you my congratulations on the Silver Jubilee of your publication.

To keep the flag flying in the difficult days of the war, when news was meagre and paper almost unobtainable, was a great achievement. Now that things are more normal and sporting activities once again in full swing, Motor Sport has more than regained its pre-war form, and, as I know from my journeyings overseas, is read with interest and pleasure by enthusiasts in all parts of the world.

My own association with the paper dates back only twenty years, but the first bound volumes on my bookshelf take me back to an earlier period, when Grand Prix racing was the high-spot of the Sport, and the Sunbeam team a power to be reckoned with. Bugatti and Alfa-Romeo had their innings after that, and then around 1926-28 came the heyday of sports-car racing.

At that time the paper had fallen to a low ebb, and might well have disappeared altogether. Luckily a friend of mine, Mr. W. S. Braidwood, later the first Editor under the new regime, had the foresight to realise the possibilities of the journal and bought up the copyright. In 1929, working together, we re-launched it in a more ambitious form, and for a time widened its scope to include aircraft and motor-boat sections.

One feature of the earlier numbers was the series of articles entitled “Great Racing Marques,” and this we decided to revive. In this series and its successor, “Veteran Types,” “Baladeur” found the ideal medium for his knowledge and his enthusiasm for the early history of the Sport, and it is good to see that he still continues his interesting and enlightening articles.

Health reasons forced me to give up the editorial chair (rather a hard one, if I remember right) in 1936. Perhaps I might be allowed to sum up my impressions of seven years of change and progress.

As regards sports cars, a boom period was 1928-30, in which a great number of firms tried their luck in this tempting market. Then came a slump which cut spending to the bone, many firms falling out. It was a hard time for the paper, but a big chance for the small economical model, as typified by the M.G. Midget. After that came a big revival, with larger English cars such as the 4 1/2-litre Lagonda and the new Bentley, and a similar revival on the Continent, led by the Type 57 Bugatti, the various Delahayes, and the Talbots.

Grand Prix racing regained its former prestige when the 750 kg. Formula came in, and the Nuvolari-Varzi duels were something to remember. The first appearance of the new Mercédès and Auto Unions was a great thrill, but in the following years, when they had overcome their teething troubles and were mounting up in speed and power, one rather wondered whether racing was producing a crop of juggernauts.

In a short time these new problems of roadholding and braking were solved, and the technical knowledge thus gained is reflected in the stability of the highspeed 1 1/2-litre bolides of today, and the spread of independent suspension and high power-outputs to the present-day cars of the man-in-the-street.

The first twenty-five years of the paper’s life have seen great advances in fast motoring, and twenty-five years more may cover even greater changes. Shall we read a road-test of the new 1958 gas-turbine Superblitz or a report of John Cobley’s world record driving his Atomic-Pile Special? Whatever the future may bring, I feel sure that Motor Sport will be there with the news and the pictures.

For the present, sincere congratulations on a long career of sound reporting and best wishes for continued expansion in the years to come. — T. G. Moore.

From Richard Twelvetrees, Esq., A.M.I.Mech.E., who was Editor of Motor Sport from March, 1925, until October, 1926: —

As one who, in the early days of Motor Sport, or The Brooklands Gazette as it was then called, occupied a somewhat rickety editorial chair in the corner of a small publisher’s office, I should like to offer my congratulations to those who now celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. When one realises that Britain’s only periodical devoted entirely to the interests of the sporting motorist began as an unofficial record of racing at Brooklands, the achievement of its present status in motor journalism can only be described as phenomenal.

It so happened, however, that the early associations with Brooklands and its habituees had a very important influence upon the subsequent development of the magazine. We made many good friends there who helped to popularise Motor Sport by allowing their biographies to appear in its pages. Sir Malcolm Campbell, Sir Henry Segrave, Parry Thomas, Glen Kidston and others no longer with us, inspired ambitious youngsters of their day to win a flutter of the chequered flag through the medium of Motor Sport. Even in those early days, the magazine was held in high regard among keen sportsmen and students, as evidenced by an occasion when as Editor I was invited to deliver a lecture at Oxford University on”Tuning Cars for Trials,” a far more terrifying experience than charging between masses of spectators on Beggars Roost, or slithering over “The Cannons” at Alms Hill.

Your then-Editor also spoke to Motor Sport readers and thousands of other motorists over the ether from 2 LO in the early days of broadcasting.

In addition to collecting material from every available source, plying scissors and paste brush, my editorial duties included participation in various trials and competitions at the wheel of a 11.9-h.p. Bean, induced by much mechanical jugglery, and the dissipation of more hard cash than it was actually worth, to perform creditably in company with expensive sports cars of the period. Incidentally, that old Bean was one of the first cars in this country to be equipped with a wireless set and achieved notoriety by being turned out of an enclosure at Ascot racecourse, by the Clerk of the Course in person, for being a public nuisance, even before there was time to adjust the cat’s whisker on the crystal detector used with amplifying valves and a horn-shaped loudspeaker.

Not that the Editor’s life was all fun, by any means, for I once discovered to my chagrin, when the “kitty” was almost empty, that it required something more than literary aptitude to persuade firms to buy advertisement space. That memorable and fruitless tour of the Midlands taught me, once and for all, that advertisement managers must possess business qualifications and powers of persuasion to which I shall never aspire and which, judging from current issues of Motor Sport, are now being applied to very good effect.

To me, the editorship was an exhilarating experience which only came to an end after a strike-breaking crash in 1926, but it left a permanent urge to turn competition experience to good account in an altogether different section of the motor industry. Therefore, to young readers of Motor Sport let me add that in pursuit of a great pastime they too may find a foothold to a career in the motor industry or to fame on road and track. — Richard Twelvetrees.

From “BALADEUR,” our valued contributor on old-car matters:

My congratulations to Motor Sport on the completion of its first quarter-century. As perhaps the oldest inhabitant among its contributors, may I be permitted to say that few of us who knew it in its early days could ever have expected such a thing. There were in those days no International Formula races in England, and, apart from the 200-Mile Race, no attempt had been made to organise long-distance racing of any sort. There was no Veteran Car Club, and virtually no interest in old cars; no Vintage SportsCar Club, and scarcely anyone to appreciate a good car when he drove one.

For the subsequent improvement in these respects Motor Sport is not without a large share of the credit. The Editor has now only to arrange for the dismissal of each and every Government which continues to make motoring of any kind practically impossible, and he can, I am sure, look forward to the next twenty-five years with equanimity. “Baladeur”

From C. C. Wakefield & CO., LTD.: –
I would like to take this opportunity of congratulating you upon the hne success which Motor sport has achieved over the last twenty-five years. — A. A. Barr, Publicity Manager, C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd.

From Cecil Clutton, Esq., who nobly assisted in filling Motor Sport’s columns with freelance contributions during the dark war years:

May I venture to congratulate the proprietors of Motor Sport upon the completion of its first twenty-five years, and offer my best wishes for the next twenty-five to come?

Motor Sport is a paper so peculiarly dedicated to the out-and-out enthusiast that it would hardly be intelligible to the uninitiated, and its continued and growing success is therefore a good omen for the future of motoring sport in this country. Its fearless and outspoken criticism is, I feel sure, one of the chief reasons for its success.

People tend to forget the past rather easily, so this is perhaps a suitable moment to remind readers of what it meant to go on getting Motor Sport right through the war — and how difficult it often was to get hold of a copy, too! On the part of the proprietors it was certainly an act of faith and enthusiasm, and on the part of the Editor, doing a full-time job in the north of England, it meant a superhuman effort for which readers can never thank him enough.

I know that the difficulty of getting copy was often intense, with no motoring events of any kind, and I was frequently pressed into service to stop gaps, once churning out three articles in one weekend, and over 100,000 words (a small book) during the course of the war. But this was a minute effort compared with that of the Editor, and it is with all sincerity that I wish him and the paper every good fortune in the future. — Cecil Cluton.

From D. J. Scannell, popular secretary of the British Racing Drivers Club, Ltd.:

On the occasion of your paper’s twenty-fifth anniversary, may I offer you my congratulations, coupled with the hope that Motor Sport will continue to prosper in the years to come. — D. J. Scannell.

From Capt. A. Frazer-Nash, A.M.I.A.E., the “N” of G.N., well-known racing driver, who wrote an article on thrills he experienced in his racing G.N. “Kim.” for No. I of this paper:

I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on your Silver Jubilee and express the wish that in another twenty-five years your paper will be just as hale and hearty. — Capt. A. Frazer-Nash.