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AMERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR to all the readers of this journal in general, and of this page in particular. May the 1928 model be up to expectations, may you never have a skid, may you never have a smash, may you never be strewn by the wayside throughout the Glad New Year. May the myrmidons of the Law hold their hands, may you never be fined forty shillings and costs ; in fact, may you enjoy a trouble-free motoring year. Bless you, my children.
I often hear it said that a racing motor-cycle, in racing trim—that is to say without wide ratios or lowered compression—is an impossible machine for ordinary road use.
The other day this was being hotly debated with me by a few habitual trials riders, who laughed me to scorn when I suggested that such a machine could be used in an ordinary way on the ordinary road, or even in a sporting trial.
I was speaking from imagination, so, to test my views, I acquired for the week-end a 500 c.c. two port o.h.v. machine which was used as a practice vehicle in the Senior T.T. this year. This machine was precisely as it left the Island. The box was close ratio, and the compression ratio was equal to that of the lowest gear, both being 8 to 1. There was no kick starter, and the ignition timing was the sort of thing that gives twenty miles an hour acceleration on the magneto alone.
I rode this motor from the country to Motor Sport offices and back, through London traffic about tenthirty a.m. and at six p.m., both pretty busy periods. The machine proved absolutely ideal. The tremendous acceleration was equalled only by the tremendous braking power. The compactness of the machine enabled me to swing it in and out of the densest traffic with consummate ease, and never once did I stop the engine. True, I had to keep the revs, up, and there was no tick over. The piston made terrible clanking noises, and the exhaust was not quiet, but as far as actual running was concerned, it was an ideal traffic motor. A touch to the throttle and we surged past obstructing cars into the gap, the brakes stopping us dead at every block.
Later I took the machine round a trials course of more than ordinary severity. I remembered that the engine must be kept turning over, as there was no kick starter, and my progress over grassy colonial sections, covered with a layer of the slime that grass offers in winter, was at once noisy and acrobatic. The passage was not feet up, but neither did I stop the engine or fall off completely. Leaf-covered and greasy chalk hills were levelled beneath my wheels, water splashes held no terrors, and
I accomplished the thirty mile course in one hour, five minutes.
So, as far as I am concerned, the question is settled ; a racing machine, intelligently handled, can be used in ordinary conditions, and for ordinary road work.
A great deal of talk and controversy is going on just now about motor-racing in 1928. This is all to the good, and indicates that the motoring world is aware of shortcomings in this respect. At the moment it seems to be taken for granted that a Grand Prix road race for cars will be held over a road circuit in Great Britain. That this will be far superior, as a race, than anything staged at Brooklands could ever be, no one will deny ; but one man’s gain is another man’s loss, and if the race should be held in Ulster, as is the general hope, what Ireland will gain, England will lose. Thousands of spectators will not see the race, owing to the impossibility of getting away from business, and these are sure to raise howls of rage if the race is definitely settled with venue in Ulster. But so great will be the benefit to motor-racing in general, that the minor drawbacks attendant on holding the Grand Prix out of England must be disregarded.
Perhaps an impetus will thereby be given to the moribund Bill now dormant somewhere in Parliament. We may still hope that before we die we shall see a great international race run. over highways in this country.
There also appear to be certain rumours current concerning a Private Owners Car T.T. Race, to be run over the famous Manx course sometime next year. Of which, more anon.
Many will join with me in sorrow at the death of a prominent sportsman, Mr. Fred Sutcliffe.
Mr. Sutcliffe was the popular Chairman of the Huddersfield Automobile Club, and recently, of the newly-formed Yorkshire Committee of the R.A.C. He was a member of the old General Committee, and, on the formation in 1923 of the General Council of the R.A.C., he became one of its foremost and most energetic members.
As we go to press, I hear the French Grand Prix has been cancelled, the probable substitute being an endurance race for standard products.
How far this decision will affect the holding of the four remaining World’s Championships is as yet somewhat debatable, but it really seems as if the end of racing with special cars is at last in sight.