Club news, December 1939

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The tragedy is, there just isn’t any real Club news. Quite a number of clubs have definitely closed down for the duration of the war and of the majority of the remainder, nothing has been heard. Social gatherings of sporting motorists, which one might have attended in this not-very-cheerful winter, just aren’t. It is a great pity that this apathy exists, for, without being unduly pessimistic, it is obvious that if war goes on, the time will come when many more enthusiasts may be in positions which will prevent their attendance at such meetings. So will those clubs, which have not had a definite meeting to wind things up until Peace breaks out, please give the matter the consideration it deserves and attempt to give those of us to whom motoring means a great deal, a chance to get together and yarn again, ere the world goes en

tirely insane ? As we have observed before, film shows should go down remarkably well and to the retort that members would never get to the mustering place, we would reply that, so far, public transport services are still in general operation, and, pampered as your clubman may have been in peace time, if he is worth his salt he will not object to an occasional sticky journey to be amongst his motoring friends.

We believe that the Seven-Fifty Club is shortly putting over something on these lines and it may be possible to include full details elsewhere in this issue before we close for Press.

Certain clubs are attempting to carry on with their publications on a war-time footing, and the Harrow C.C. issued a final edition of its magazine and will attempt a quarterly issue from now on. The Vintage S.C.C. also came out with a concluding issue of the ” Bulletin ” before winding up until the war is finished with, reverting to the typed sheets they used before they expanded sufficiently to break out into very excellent print and paper. A report of the Donington race meeting was contained -therein and inemhers who change their addresses are requested to notify the Club captain, Tim Carson, at the Old Sarum Garage, Basingstoke.

The Lancashire C.C. seems to have arranged special duties for most of its members and a few other bodies are holding socials, but the Harrow C.C., C.U.A.C., Chester M.C. and Derby & District M.C. have closed down.

WHY NOT A TRIAL OR THREE?

Much of the argument applied to organising war-time social gatherings of enthusiasts can be repeated when it comes to a consideration of war-time trials. At the beginning of September, when war commenced, we were beset with personal troubles and problems, we didn’t know how much fuel we could patriotieally burn, we felt that hostilities on the home front might break at any moment, and, anyway, mass gatherings were prohibited. Now everyone, in the Services or out, is becoming rather bored with this ” strangest of wars,” while we now know that our fuel ration of approximately 200 miles per month may quite legitimately be put to any use we wish. The only good reasons for not holding trials in war-time that you can advance to the rabid slime-stormer would seem to be the fact that possible competitors are nowadays very scattered and that their time is mostly limited, that the very same thing applies to officials, and that personal journeys will in lots of instances absorb much of the petrol ration. However, motor-cyclists are quite severely rationed, yet a wartime trial was recently held at Brands Hatch. The facts are that there were about a dozen observed sections in a route of 4 miles and over twenty entries were received, while the lads and lasses thoroughly enjoyed an opportunity of spectating. Now there seems no very good reason why we shouldn’t have a car trial to ease our present boredom and restlessness, especially as we now learn that future R.A.S.C. driving instructors are likely to be recruited from the trials driving fraternity. Such events, we suggest, held Close to headquarters and with a 15-20 mile route (War Office ground would especially suit if permission could still be obtained) need absorb less than a third of a month’s fuel ration and, if organised by a club composed of 100 per cent. enthusiasts in the majority (as a distinct from clubmen saloon-car owners) quite a reasonable entry should result. Most hotels would welcome the competitors in these hard times, and if sufficient support to run the thing on conventional lines were unobtainable, quite decent results can be had from the convoy system, working of course in

daylight. Deserted roads particularly lend themselves to follow-my-leader trials. So, if any club secretaries can spare a little time from A.R.P. and other wartime duties, will they make history by giving us the .first war-time trial ? We will gladly give it all the support in our power, providing it is sanely organised. The need really seems quite pressing, judging by the badge-bearing trials’ motors we see still in service in their

owners’ hands, But something might well be done before the next year’s increased taxation reduces the possibility of entries.

COMMUNAL WORKSHOPS

People are suggesting that lots of folk will spend their future spare time working on their existing cars or evolving new

ones, for use in the better times we all hope will come about some day. It is argued that clubs with workshop facilities for their members will reap a. benefit from black-out evenings and

similar restrictions. We will gkdly give publicity to such facilities if ..ecretar-ies care to send details, but we feel that the desire for a few war-time trials is. of greater moment.

GENERAL NOTES

Life is certainly verydifferent these. days from what it was in peace time,. but, mercifully, motoring is not yet. extinct and not all of us are yet clad in khaki. But rationing of fuel has put a. stop to all those long-distance expeditions, not to mention calling for a very definite excuse before the car is taken out at all and making hostile Belisha-lamps a. matter for extreme despair. The hack Austin, though at times _suffering from Pool pinking, nevertheless remains 100. per cent. reliable, and has been used quite a bit on black-out evenings, usually over a known route of about 30 miles, which embraces a quite exciting watersplash, a pleasant country hostelry, and a quite charming country cafe where a meal is availableat almost any hour of the night in very cosy conditions, providing the proprietress is first knocked up and told of one’s requirements. And, while the desired sustcnance is being prepared, there is a quite reasonably exciting trials. type hill to be stormed and, if the moon is up, a really splendid and inspiring view to be enjoyed of the surrounding countryside, from a vantage point near the summit. The 11111 also embraces a quite ” autobahn ” piece of highway and a very fascinating roundabout which has pedestrian crossing tunnels burrowing through it, the point being that you can never be certain after entering a tunnel, of where one will emerge, which, after a lighthearted evening under black-out repression, can be quite trying. Emphasis. on the desirability of keeping to a known route, at all events unless the moon is up, came when we attempted a distinctly cross-country run from Brooklands, where in any case, the war-time atmosphere and excess of camouflage had . thoroughly depressed us. Following tea in a tea-room which We were not permitted to light in any way, a flat front tyre had to be tackled in complete darkness, the now always essential torch having been carelessly left behind. Then fog rendered the night as black as we had ever seen it and the driver, who had had precious little real sleep since war began, said some really picturesque things about the black-out, particularly after a prolonged exploration for a place where reviver could be had, ended in the inevitable ” Time, gentlemen, please I ” ‘

just as the desired building had been located. Nevertheless, no doubt we shall continue these parties as long as fuel is procurable, for, war or no war, setting out to get a breath of the country and to storm a trials acclivity means a lot, and satisfies as no other evening entertainment ever can. Albeit long arguments ensue beforehand on who shall be invited to occupy the spare passenger space, for not every damsel who goes to her ambulance station in what to we innocents appears to be a full trials’ garb, can see the point of this unconventional and nocturnal motoring. To give her her due, lots of one-time enthusiasts who once lived for such things seem to have lost their keenness now that running costs have risen and green crocodiles wearing red toppers come into the driver’s vision so much sooner than was once the ease. Mr. Lucas having the shutters up well and truly these days. Civil defence duties absorbing much spare time, daylight runs have not been many, but. there were some local trips with the trials Austin well and truly wound-up and there was a run nearly to Eastbourne and back in a Riley Gamecock,” which provided a refreshing taste of the real thing in both speed and exhaust note, even if Pool fuel did not entirely agree with the high-com pression ratio. Certainly, traffic was sparse out of town, and, returning in the rain and dark, the owner, always believed to have exceptionally keen eyesight, thoroughly confirmed it by cornering at sliding point despite the blackout, albeit he knew the road hitimetely. Then the orange T.T. Austin was tow !d out of London to a place of comparative safety, rain lashing down from a leaden sky as it so often da….s when the writer occupies an open car devoid of weather

protection. But it was grNst lo look Once again over an aero-screen along a strapped-down bonnet and to experience the action of hard suspension, though one would have parted with a lot to drown the hiss of the tyres with the metallic exhaust crackle characteristic of the little car. Although there is quite a .decent amount of traffic still operating in our cities, out of them the roads are taking on a deserted aspect which reminds the older motorist of pre-1914 conditions. This is likely to be greatly accentuated next year, when the h.p. tax goes up by

10/per horse power. The younger generation does not, on the whole, appreciate the sparsity of traffic, notwithstanding the reliability of presentday cars. It may well be that we have become so car-conscious that we miss the pride which observation of a good car by passers-by and fellow motorists could impart, or it may be that, as enthusiasts, we had come to regard the roads as a constant pageant of motoring interest, whereas now, the sight of anything in the category of a Type 57S Bugatti or similar—we saw a coupe of this make in South London quite recently—has become quite an event. Or perhaps it is just that deserted roads emphasise the comparative unusualness of motoring brought about by war-time rationing of petrol. Whatever it may be, few of us will be anxious to entirely give up driving and, as we adapt ourselves to war time road emptiness, it may be that such relaxed daytime driving conditions will allow new standards of average speed to be achieved by those who refuse to stifle the capabilities of a gooil car by coasting, crawling, mixture weakening and other supposedly ration-preserving means. But, if you venture far afield after dark, remember that changing a wheel in total darkness is next to impossible and that nowadays supplies of fuel and oil are not very numerous, and are difficult to

find into the bargain. When all the coupons have been torn out, we shall have to content ourselves with public service transport, and it is good to know that coach services are continuing, including the London-Glasgow service. Observation of different makes of coach and the manner in which various services are operated will not pass the onetime fast car owner. One way of really making the most of one’s petrol coupons is to plan a definite journey and stick to it. We foresee quite a few hyper-keen trials drivers digging out old route cards and religiously following a brief trials course on their own, starting and finishing at the actual pubs used on the trials. After all, Sydney Allard got much fun Out of just practising on trials hills in company with a few friends, in peace time. Don’t forget the gum-hoots! If several enthusiasts get together, quite long inns can be planned each week-end, and it will still be worth while to work to a definite schedule. If four persons pool their resources it will be possible to do a decent 80-100 mile jaunt every Sunday and still permit each individual to manage 20-2:5 miles potter

ing a week. So what about it ?

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