RUMBLINGS, December 1933
Who Is to Blame ?
IT is a curious fact that whenever an accident occurs in a motor-race, there are always plenty of people who go about laying the blame on one of the drivers involved. More particularly does this occur when the accident is caused by one driver trying to pass another.
If these objectionable people had at least a considered reason for apportioning the blame, their arguments could be received with some respect. But the trmble is that in nearly every case they are abysmally ignorant of such points as the maximum speeds of the cars. At the time of the accident in the 1932 “500,” for example a man who has worked as an official at big races actually told me that the single seater Talbot could not lap at more than 100 m.p.h. !
Duller’s crash at Brooklands has set their tongues wagging again, and their persistance has suggested a remedy to me. I think that the difficulty could be overcome if the stewards of a meeting were to issue an official announcement to the Press, exonerating drivers who were near the crashing car from any blame. Naturally this could not be done if the accident necessitated an inquest or an official enquiry, but in all other cases it would silence a good deal of uninformed chatter. Any censure or disqualification is always given to the Press immediately, so why not the other side of the picture as well ? As matters stand at present, a driver after being questioned is merely told that no further action will be taken—a negative exoneration.
That Vital Photograph.
I have the greatest admiration for my colleagues who wield press-cameras. To be able to ” shoot ” with nonchalance a scene which cannot be repeated seems to me to be superhuman. I remember on one occasion at a Continental road race the Photographer-in-Chief asked me to help him by taking a photograph of the massed start, while he got a close-up of a certain driver getting away. My companion set the camera for me, and gave me full instructions as to what to do. All went well until the starter raised his flag—and then I suddenly realised that the Editor had specifically asked for a photograph of the start. With trembling hands I raised the camera and pressed the release as the howling pack of cars ap
proached. Then I felt uneasy ; surely I had forgotten something ? Great Scott, the slide !
A rather similar thing happened to a friend of mine recently, also on the Continent. He was asked by a driver to take a photograph of the start, but he found the only possible vantage point already crowded with photographers. But it occurred to him that if he got behind a low parapet, in front of which the early-comers were standing, he could take his picture from an effective low view-point between their legs. When the films were developed he found a perfectly good photograph of a parapet at close quarters !
Pros and Cons of the “Night-Section.” ” ” ” “
The forthcoming ” Gloucester ” and ” Exeter ” trials will probably give rise to a good deal of discussion about the usefulness or uselessness of the night-section of reliability events. Personally, I am of the opinion that the night-section could well be cut out. At one time it used to serve as a good test of lighting-equipment and long-distance reliability, and was therefore definitely something of an adventure. Nowadays I think it is rather boring, and consists mainly of taking precautions not to run into a time-check too early. Another disadvantage to my mind is that one finishes the trial feeling unpleasantly tired. After all, these events are supposed to be something more than a competition to
see who can keep himself from going to sleep as long as possible.
If a night-section added to the severity of a trial I would be against its elimination. But the M.C.C. Sporting One Day Trial is sufficient proof to the contrary. In this event everyone has a night’s rest before the trial, and is fresh for tackling the hills—instead of being drowsy, and rather slow.
Then there is the danger aspect. Not only to competitors but to other road-users. Cases have been known (not often, admittedly) of drivers falling asleep at the wheel in driving home after a trial, with fatal results. That sort of thing does not have to occur more than once or twice to cause an outcry in the Daily Press, which must be avoided.
It is a difficult question to solve. Providing there are no accidents and no Press outcry, I am not against people who like night-trials enjoying them to their heart’s delight. But cannot more staid motorists be catered for in the same trial, e.g., by joining those who prefer to motor slowly throughout a winter’s night to a warm bed, at the beginning of the hill-section the next morning ?
Now for some heated correspondence !
The Fastest Game.
At Streatham Ice Rink the other day I ran into a friend of mine, Vic Gardner, the Publicity Manager of Smith’s, the accessory people. Being unversed in the personalities of ice-hockey (although I shan’t be for long if. my present enthusiasm for the game continues) I did not realise I was talking to a famous man. When
the game started—it was Streatham versus Cambridge University—my ignorance was revealed, for there was
Gardner between the goal posts ! Now I know all about him, things his modesty has kept quiet for a long time. Such things as the fact that he was Captain of the English team in 1932, that he has played in well over a hundred international matches, and that experts consider him the finest goal-keeper in Europe. Gardner told me that he learnt ice-hockey when he was at school in Switzerland.
Another friend encountered at Streatham was J. H. Justice, who last year was Secretary of the British IceHockey Association, and knows all there is to know about the game. Incidentally, if you haven’t seen icehockey yet, go and see an international match if you live anywhere near a lit& It’s a real thrill, the fastest game of any, with a minimum of delays, and—well, see it for yourself. Don’t trouble to write and thank me.
Motor-racing will never become a national sport in this country so long as the present friction between drivers and officials continues. Basing my opinion on my contact with officials as a pressman, I am wholly in agreement with the drivers. Of course there are exceptions, but it does seem that an English motor-racing official regards it his chief job to find as many technical obstructions to drivers’ actions as possible, and to apply them in an ostrich-like manner quite apart from the individual aspects of the case.
And as though that is not bad enough, certain officials seem to think that their office includes the functions of ” G.O.M.” and Adviser of the Young. The absurd thing is, of course, that in many cases they are not in a position to give any useful advice, the unwilling victims of their conceited counsel being more experienced and far better drivers than they are themselves. All of which must be very irritating for them—but is entirely their own fault.
There is no type more nauseating than the selfappointed authority on a subject.
Here and There.
Congratulations and best wishes to James Wright and Denis Evans, both of whom assumed matrimonial responsibilities last month.
Hamilton is back in England, and enjoying a very well deserved rest. A friend of mine who has been in Germany all this summer gave me some interesting news about the popularity of ” Hammy” and his Midget in that country, both with drivers and spectators. The drivers, incidentally, predict a great future for Hamilton as a road-racer. During the G.P. of Czechoslovakia his 750 c.c. Midget actually passed a 2.3 litre Bugatti and a 7 litre “Mere.” on the straight !
Wilcoxson is Getting Better.
There is better news about Wilcoxson, of Vale Specials, who was smashed up rather badly when Langley’s Midget crashed at Donington. He hopes to be leaving his bed shortly for a bath-chair, a really good step towards recovery. Incidentally Wilcoxson has dis
played amazing courage throughout his long illness, which has been a most painful business. I hope I shall soon see him again at Portsdown Road, where his good work with Vale Specials has been carried on most ably by that enthusiastic trials man, Reginald Gaspar.
I had a visit the other day from the one and only
Spike” Rhiando, who has been working away for some time in an endeavour to start dirt-track racing at Greenford. ” Spike ” tells me that he wants to run a meeting there on Boxing Day, subject to R.A.C. approval of safety arrangements.
The idea behind this proposed meeting is to show people what sort of sport dirt-track racing can be, and thereby gain some real support. I am rather afraid, though, that a more or less impromptu meeting may do more harm than good.
By the way, ” Spike ” tells me that Greenford could be made quite easily into a speedway just . as fast as many American tracks. That sounds good enough !
Jack Field is negotiating for the loan of Southport, Pendine or Saltburn Sands, for an attempt on the British Mile Record, which stands to the credit of Sir Malcolm Campbell at 175 m.p.h. Field has secured the “Silver Bullet” for the purpose, and is sanguine of success. ” Wal ” Handley, motor cyclist of considerable fame,
will race for 1VI.G.’s next season in most of the important British races.
At least one Continental driver has fixed his plans for next year, for a recent ” encounter ” with his late team manager at an intimate London party has decided him against racing with that particular firm next year.
A well known driver of Alfa Romeos in this country is reported to have a 3 litre Maserati being sent to him from Italy. Herr Hitler is said to have “issued a decree” that none but German drivers may handle the new 3i litre
Mercedes-Benz. In spite of this the Conan Doyle brothers hope to have one next year, and Nuvolari has been seen at the Works.
A company has been formed by Raymond Mays, in conjunction with H. W. Cook and some other sportsmen. for the purpose of building a team of 2.8 litre racing cars for next season. These will be enlarged editions of the modified Riley which Mays has driven this year, having the same general layout of engine and chassis. Their performance should be terrific, and providing the reliability factor is considered, the cars should have every chance of success.
That’s about all for the moment.