MATTERS OF MOMENT
A BROOKLANDS SOCIETY ANNOUNCEMENT
During the 75th. Anniversary Re-Union in June, to commemorate the opening in 1907 of Brooklands Motor Course (see report on page 1026), Peter Rixidis of Brooklands Track Ltd. made the following announcement about the purchase of 40 acres of the more interesting parts now remaining of the old Track, which the Society has been trying to accomplish for some considerable time:
"It was at the Brooklands Reunion in 1976 that we first learned that the area in which we are now gathered, which is known as the "Forty Acres", was to be put up for sale on the commercial market. Shortly afterwards, Brooklands Track Limited was formed as an associate of the Brooklands Society to investigate ways and means of acquiring the site as a first stage of ensuring that as much of Brooklands as possible could be returned to the nation as a permanent reminder of the history and endeavour that was achieved at this famous place.
"It is, we feel, particularly appropriate, as we are all present here in the Forty Acres to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Brooklands today, to make an interim announcement concerning the future of the site.
"For some time, we have been involved in discussions with an organisation which has now purchased the Forty Acre site. As a result of these discussions, I am happy to announce that or have been able to accelerate our own plans to establish our own major long-term presence at Brooklands on a full and permanent basis.
"An Educational Trust is presently being founded to encompass the interests of the Brooklands Society and Brooklands Track Limited with close associates who have interests in the aviation heritage of Brooklands. This overall heritage group, which will be known as the Brooklands Trust, is being advised by professional financial specialists.
"Our development plans are in an advanced state of finalisation and it is hoped that full details can be announced within a matter of weeks. In the meantime, I am able to confirm that the heritage of British motoring and aviation, which owes no much to Brooklands, will be returning here to the place where it all began 75 years ago.
"Obviously, a great deal of work has to be completed before we can open the gates of our new-home here at Brooklands, but the new owners and ourselves hope that this advance news will help to make today's special anniversary reunion even more enjoyable for everybody."
Until more is known of this project, we have nothing to add, except to say that we understand that the purchasers of this area of Brooklands will be erecting a two-storey building on the Members' Hill, which seems a pity, as any non-original addition to the pre-war scene is to be deplored, and that one wonders whether such a commercial organisation may not need car-parks for its employees, which could further detract from originality. However, this may presumably be the only way that the Hill, the Members' banking (already cut into to provide garden-space for houses beyond it) the all-important Clubhouse and Paddock, etc., can be preserved, and it is very desirable, in the view of many of us, that this should be accomplished. So we await with impatience the next announcement.
The Society had been able to secure some Government support for its aims by inviting to its Re-Union luncheon Mrs. Lynda Chalker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary-of-State to the Department of Transport, and an official D-of-T Press Notice was issued by Mrs. Chalker, which read as follows:
"During its 32-year active life the Brooklands circuit enabled several famous British drivers, like Sir Malcolm Campbell, to make their reputations and contribute towards many of the advances in automotive design which we take for granted today.
"Development of vital safety components such as brakes and tyres was greatly accelerated during the 20's and 30's as a result of manufacturers' participation in competition. The Bentley of today owes much of its worldwide reputation to early motorsport success — a clear case of racing improving the breed.
"I heartily support the preservation of this important monument to our motoring past and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the old cars back in action here today.
"Racing drivers were amongst the first to recognise the advantages of wearing safety straps in cars — the forerunner of today's seat belts — and drivers like Jackie Stewart play a vital role in publicising the life-saving benefits of wearing seat belts." No comment! — Ed.].
If it is not too occupied with finding jobs for the 3-million plus unemployed, reducing inflation, trying to regain the age-of-the-train, preventing the miners from striking and discussing who was to blame for the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina (what a shame this is now a matter of bitter Party politics, following one of the most magnificent operations in military history) and dealing with countless other tasks, the Government will probably try to get through the Compulsory Seat-Belts Bill, it is said by the late summer.
We are in favour of the wearing of safety-belts by those who derive satisfaction from so doing and agree that many nasty injuries can be obviated by so doing. Compulsion is different, undesirable, and against human liberty. All manner of ammunition will be fired, to try to wipe out this view. Crime is on the increase, they may say, but that is no reason to make minor breaches of the Law legal. No doubt statistics will be trotted out to show great savings to the NHS because belt-compulsion has reduced casualties — rather necessary, some will say, with the Health Service so obviously crumpling up. As we see it, there is dismal mis-thinking behind the Bill. Drivers of cars made prior to 1965 will be exempt from having belts, yet the cars cannot be proved safer than later vehicles. To add to the stupidity and confusion, the idea is that those in light vans made prior to August 1967 will also be exempt, as will drivers of three-wheelers if constructed before March 1970, while occupants of taxicabs on hire and commercial vehicles are to be totally exempt.
What terribly muddled thinking! As is the exclusion of them for short journeys, delivery rounds, and certain exempt classes of road-users all the time. More muddled thinking. Then the Government is to review the situation after three years of the Bill becoming Law, showing uncertainty, or that it is aware of much opposition to compulsion. Just as with that ridiculous insistence on cars having costly belts, for many years. but no insistence on using them! During that period the statistic-mongers will no doubt work overtime producing convincing accident-figures, and what hope of a remission in 1986?
So if you are against compulsion, which brings in its train more Police persecution of vehicle users, the cost of always keeping seat-belts in first-class order, risking an endorsement if you or your front-seat passenger omits for one yard not to belt-up (that rear-seat occupants are exempt is yet a further ridiculous aspect of compulsion), take steps now to tell your MP your views, while using safety equipment when conditions make this sensible. In any case, buy shares in such firms as will benefit enormously from compulsion —a firm financial tip, if the controversial Bill is passed.
The fact is that an unpopular requirement never makes good Law. Look about you and note how many drivers are now belted-up; a reader who has done a survey in his area found that more than half the drivers he discussed it with rarely wore a seat-belt and objected to compulsion. Of the rest a big majority wore seat-belts when it seemed prudent to do so but objected to compulsion. Of the others, a minority wore seat-belts regularly but three-quarters of these objected to being made to do so. Oh dear — after all the taxpayers revenue spent on TV films relating to death and destruction. [In a long motoring life all the accidents I have had have been my own errors of judgement and those who have learned to drive safely may, legitimately surely, be permitted to use their honed judgement on whether or not to belt up, or when and when not to play "take offs and landings" in their earthbound motor cars? — Ed.].
Clearly the Government has a difficult decision on its conscience. Compulsion in this area savours of legislation and will create problems for the overworked and respected Police Force. We already have an excess of ineffective motoring legislation which should not be increased without very good reason and the goodwill of the bulk of vehicle users. Go warily Mrs. Thatcher . . .
BEARING on last month's Editorial, in which it was emphasised that racing other than F1 is of value to tyre manufacturers, Michelin has introduced a new, narrower radial tyre for F2 cars, eight out of 24 cars using them at the British round of the F2 Championship at Donington Park in July, and seven of the Michelin-shod cars finishing in the first seven places, on the second-race usage of these tyres.
Goodrich ran their new comp. T/A ultra-low-profile tyres on the Porsche 924 Carrera at Le Mans which won the IMSA GT class, driven by Busby and Bundy, only the o./s. rear having to be changed, this being to publicise their production range of ultra-low-profile tyres aimed at out-selling the well-known Pirelli P7 covers. The Goodrich tyres use glass-fibre not steel for the belts, with nylon overlays under the tread. The Comp. T/A tyres is mainly for use on Porsche cars, with Ferraris and BMWs in mind. — W.B.
VSCC at Cadwell Park
THE final Vintage SCC race meeting of 1982 will take place at the delightful Cadwell Park circuit near Louth in Lincolnshire, on Sunday August 29th. The racing is for pre-war cars only and includes the Williams Trophy for two-seater Grand Prix jobs, all very much in the right tradition of the Right Crowd and No Crowding. Other races will be for Frazer Nash and GN chain-drivers for the Spero and Voiturettes Trophies, and for handicapped runners, etc. and it all happens from about 1.30 p.m. It is traditional to present the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy and cash prizes at the conclusion of the racing. — W.B.
Rover Vee-Eight Day
TIME flies and it is now some 15 years since William Hurst, then MD of Rover's, pulled off his brilliant ploy of buying the rights to use the light-alloy vee-eight-cylinder General Motors' light-alloy 3 ½-litre engine that had been used in Buick and Oldsmobile "compacts" in America, for use in the new Rover 3500 P6B saloons. This being the age of look-back anniversaries, there is to be a commemoration of this feat, that extended to the use of this excellent engine [I have done many thousands of miles behind one — Ed.] in Range Rover, Land Rover, MG GTs. Morgans and other cars, as well as for power boats, rally cars, customised cars, etc. Some third-of-a-million of these long-lived, smooth functioning engines have been made. The commemoration will be staged at Donington Park on September 5th, the organisers being the Rovers Sports Register and the MGCC V8 Register. They are calling it V8 Day, although we haven suspicion that Ford Motor Co have a copyright on this, maybe, though, only on the V8 script symbol from the days when the bigger Dagenham Fords had, not six vee-formed pots, but eight. John Woolfe Racing and the Kennings Motor Group are the sponsors; it is expected that Clubs such as the TRDC, the All-Wheel-Drive Club, Morgan SCC and MGCC will lend support. Incidentally, this Buick ore-eight engine has just ceased production in the USA. So if you are Rover vee-eight-powered you may care to get September 5th down in your diary. Prizes for many classes in a Concours d’Elegance will be presented by Mr. Hurst himself. — W.B.
The Bishops Castle Traction Engine Rally
AS WE said last year, this Shropshire event, one of the biggest of its kind, has a great many attractions for all the family, and vintage, veteran and later historic motor vehicles mingle with the irresistible steamers. Over 20,000 people usually support the event, which takes place on August 29th and 30th, Admission costs £2 for each adult, £1 for each child or OAP. Camping and caravan facilities and those for the disabled, etc., are available. This year, to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the first road-run for steam vehicles organised by the County of Salop Steam Engine Society there is to be a run from Church Stretton to the rally field at Bishops Castle on the Saturday, August 28th, with a Committee luncheon at Lydbury North en route. The steam engines will commence this run at 9 a.m. onwards, depending on their respective cruising speeds. In recent times such traction engines and steam-wagons have been mostly forced onto low-loaders for their travels to and from the rally sites but this will present an opportunity to see such old-timers once again in steam, on the pleasant B-roads of Shropshire. — W.B.
Oh Dear! Department
LAST month's mention of Donald Campbell's LSR had this accomplished at Utah, whereas, of course, he did his successful run at Lake Eyre, Australia, which Arthur Knowles, Campbell's biographer, was quick to point out, and in the Saab 900GLs road-test report the price of the GL Model got mixed up with b.h.p. — it should have read, £6,895. — W B.