A BOOK TO READ.
7/at Out by
THE autobiography of the late Sir Henry Birkin was published only last year, and any book with a similar plan must expect comparisons with it. Captain Eyston has tried rather to stress the personal element, the feel of a good car and the joy of driving, and the treatment has been completely successful. Ten years of almost continuous participation in motor racing and recordbreaking have in no way lessened his first enthusiasm, and the book is written in a way which shows, as the author remarks, that he ” enjoyed the telling.”
Eyston’s interest in motor racing was born during a vacation spent in France, near Le Mans. He was driving along quite peaceably when a racing car passed him at speed. He met the driver, the late Ralph de Palma, and learnt that he was tuning his car for the Grand Prix, which was to be run in a few day’s time. With this personal interest to hold his attention he followed the struggle between the cars of France and America with tremendous zest and returned to England determined to take part in the sport of motor racing.
His first car was an Aston Martin, with which he had a number of successes, then he turned his attention to motor-boat racing. Returning to his former love, he won the Boulogne Grand Prix on If litre Bugatti, the La Baule Grand Prix the jelowing year on his famous 2.3, and in 1928 was second in the 200 Miles race. During a record-breaking attempt in France he became interested in the Ratier, a 750 c.c. supercharged car which
held all the important Class H records. He ordered one to be built, but delivery was long delayed because the makers were unable to get the guaranteed speed. About this time his friend Palmes who was then and still is the guiding spirit in the well-known firm of Jarvis, of Wimbledon, was experimenting with an M.G. Midget fitted with a short-throw crankshaft to bring it down to 750 c.c. They joined forces, and on its first visit the little car captured 50 and 100 mile records at over 87 m.p.h. He then tried
fitting a supercharger of his own design, the Powerplus, and thus were born the series which culminated in the ever-faster Magic Midget.
Record-breaking often proved as exciting as racing on the road, especially when the M.G. caught fire at Montlhery. Eyston was driven out of the cockpit on to the tail, and then had to jump for it at 60 m.p.h. After that he did his recordbreaking in an asbestos suit ! This incident and others equally exciting are described with an absence of embroidery and comment which makes the book all the more vivid.
There is a first-class description of the Italian 1,000 Miles Race, where the hazards of a rough surface, dusty roads and straying farm carts are added to those of unguarded drops over precipices going through the mountain passes, and a course so long that it is impossible to know half the danger spots.
The book concludes with some phases of the driver’s career, the joy of the good run and the fury of despair one experiences when the car “passes out” on the last lap. A final chapter deals briefly with the value of racing in improving the breed of the touring car.
” Flat Out” is well illustrated with photographs and some fine reproductions of paintings by Brian de Grineau. It is published by John Miles and costs 6s. Its appearance is well-timed for the Christmas season, and it will help to bridge the dog-days when the crackle of the open exhaust is not to be heard.
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