MONTE CARLO RALLY

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We need offer no apology for belatedly reviewing this book, which was published early in 1930, because it is an excellent work which can profitably be read or re-read at the prese it time, particularly as a stimulant to those fortunate mortals who will be embarking on the great Rally next mouth. Humphrey Sy nions describes his attempts at success in the Monte Carlo Rally from 1929 to 1936; success came in the latter year when he started from Athens with a Wolseley 25 saloon and put up the best performance of any British closed car, besides winning the Grand Prix d’Honneur in the Comfort Competition and the Engine Appearance Prize. In previous Rallies Symons had had varied experience. In 1929 he went from John o’Groats with Les Cozens and J. A. Joyce in a Sunbeam 20, finishing successfully ; in 1930 he accompanied Les Cozens, Andy Nolan and Major Johnstone from John. o’Groats in a Sunbeam, again reaching the finish. In 1981 Symons drove a Sunbeam in company with H. B. Browing and Lionel Martin, again making John o’Groats his starting point, finishing and getting fourth prize in the Comfort Competition. 1932 saw Symons starting from Umea. with Norman Garrard and ” Bummer ” Scott in a Sunbeam ” 25 ” limousine, taking the Grand Prix de Comfort. Tallinn was Symons’s starting place in 1933 with a Speed Model Sunbeam, partnered by Penn-Hughes and George Hill. The differential gave out some eight miles beyond Poedu, in Roumania, and the car had to be pulled out of a snowdrift by seven pairs of oxen. Symons nearly succumbed to the cold and the Sunbeam went home by train, though the author still got to Monte-Carlo—by Orient Ex press. There was then a Balkan reconnaissance with Ridley and de Clifford in a 4i-litre Lagonda. In 1934 Symons went from Athens in an Essex Terraplane with Hill and Murray-Scott, finally retiring near the Castania Pass with axle trouble hastened by a serious smash on the outward journey. In 1935 Symons took a supercharged N-type M.G. Magnette two-seater from Umea with Kimbell of M.G.s, finishing well and then being placed ninety-sixth on account of steering failure in the final tests. In 1936 Symons had his successful trip in the Wolseley and thereafter wrote his book, which is one of the most entertaining motoring classics I have read. From the foregoing it will be seen that he is fully qualified to write of the great winter event, and he writes of the adventures experienced on the drives to the starting points, as well as of the Rally itself. Symons BY H. E. SYMONS (Methuen & Co. 8;6) writes exceedingly well, so that his description of scenes met en route and his ready appreciation of the dramatic make this a book of great appeal to those who always have, and who probably always will, regard the Rally as a race, indulged in by mad but harmless men. More than that, this work represents to the true enthusiast a really worth-while account of a driver’s experiences in the Rally, fit to rank alongside the classics on motorracing contributed by Charles J arrott,

Tim Birkiu, Segrave and Davis. Technicalities are included, unsimplified for the benefit of casual readers. Personalities are shown in a dozen unexpected lights. And Symons is at times a harsh critic of men and machines. We have appreciated from reading his book how very severe are the conditions met with from the Europepn starting places. Not only ice, snow, fog and rain, but unmade roads, unbridged rivers, mud-tracks and floods are commonly encountered, Even the road from John o’Groats to Glasgow is practically impassable under certain weather conditions. Vet combined with these freak conditions, the Monte Carlo Rally embraces high averages over normal roads which bring out the very best qualities In a car, and give it its high appeal. Although Symons has made nearly as many expeditions on ” stunt ” trips into the Sahara, with Morris, Wolseley, Rolls-Royce and Ford cars, he only once makes passing reference to them in this book, devoting all its 286 pages to the Rally. He certainly does not overlook the human side and tells excitingly of encounters by male crews with queer ladies in many queer places. The book is admirably illustrated with clear photographs. It should be a source of great pleasure to anyone who will shortly be going on his first Rally, it should teach and stimulate all who are reviving enthusiasm to commence another Rally, and it should be read by all ,en

thusiasts who set any store by motoring literature. Although we personally prefer a competition of the nature of the Rally to a lone-hand stunt run, Symons’s very great descriptive powers make one await anxiously his promised book on his African drives. It is of interest that this year, after “Monte Carlo Rally” was written, he did not enter, but Symons is likely to figure amongst the starters next January. If he does he will be a factor to reckon against, as he is extremely determined, very experienced and par ticularly fit. It will be interesting to see whether any manufacturer secures his services this time, in what promises to be one of the most interesting Monte Carlo Rallies of the series. In the meantime—read his book