Bouquets and Brickbats
The Third Meeting of the Clubs, held at the R.A.C. on November 18th, gave organisers and competitors a chance to hand the R.A.C. Competitions Committee verbal bouquets, followed by numerous brickbats.
The meeting was opened by Prof. R. G. H. Clements, M.C., Minst.C.E. (Senior Vice-Chairman, R.A.C.). In his opening remarks he spoke at length about the vast undertaking that Silverstone represented and the great responsibility that it was to the R.A.C. [we feel Brooklands in 1907 must have been an even greater responsibility to Mr. Locke-King!].
The general trend of the remarks by the Club’s representatives was one of complaint, rather than suggestion, and Silverstone came up for much discussion. The main grievance was that the cost of running events at Silverstone was too high, and this was supported by the B.R.D.C., the Hants & Berks M.C., the A.C. Owners Club, the Maidstone & Mid-Kent M.C., and the 500 Club, many of whom had had practical experience of running meetings at the airfield. The Bentley Drivers Club and the Bugatti Owners Club representatives both felt that a financial statement should be issued by the R.A.C. in respect of the first Silverstone season, while the Hants & Berks M.C., supported by S.U.N.B.A.C. and the A.C. Owners, felt that any profits shown by the R.A.C. from Silverstone meetings should be used to subsidise smaller club meetings held there. The B.R.D.C. felt that more time should be allowed on non-race days for private owners to practise and the Darlington and District M.C., supported by S.U.N.B.A.C., thought the whole attitude of the R.A.C. over Silverstone was too dictatorial [loud acclaim from the assembly].
While it was appreciated that the R.A.C. and the A.C.U. were collaborating more than in the past, there were many matters which could be improved by their joint action, in particular the method of issuing competition permits for combined car and motor-cycle events.
The compulsory 5s. National Competition Licence was mentioned more than any other topic and the meeting was very much in favour of its abolition, S.U.N.B.A.C. leading the movement. Much ill-feeling was apparent over the fact that the R.A.C. had stated in correspondence that its introduction was welcomed by the majority of clubs, whereas the meeting proved the contrary.
The use of airfields other than Silverstone for race meetings was widely discussed and pleas for circuits in the West, North, North-West and Scotland were put forward, suitable aerodromes being cited. This led Sqd.-Ldr. Day (A.C.U.) and the Darlington & D.M.C. representative to lodge complaints that their proposed airfield meetings were refused permits. The Brighton & Hove M.C. asked that their Speed Trial be reinstated as an International fixture, although S.U.N.B.A.C. doubted the status of most of the so-called International meetings held in this country. Many clubs desired to see racing and the organisation of races made less costly, but the Hants & Dorset C.C. gave a warning note, when they mentioned that their Blandford meeting required an outlay of £3,000 and had shown a loss. The B.R.D.C. put forward a sound suggestion, to the effect that the R.A.C. Touring Department might delegate one man to deal with arrangements for drivers taking racing cars [and motorcycles?] abroad for Continental meetings.
Before the meeting adjourned for tea Earl Howe summed up, answering as many points as he could. The question of the Competition Licence was out of the hands of the R.A.C. as it was now an International requirement of the F.I.A. The Silverstone balance sheet could not be dealt with by the Competitions Committee [the “buck” was passed to the R.A.C. Executive Committee, who, of course, were inevitably not present]. His Lordship expressed the view that it was a mistake to have too many circuits and events. Col. Barnes was called upon to reply to the Silverstone queries. It would appear that the number of paying-gate meetings held there was dictated by the Police, due to traffic arrangements [a strange situation, this]. He supported Earl Howe’s plea, to avoid overloading the calendar and having too many circuits. Prof. Clements presented the awards for the 1949 R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship and the 1949 Championship Trial to Sydney Allard and Ken Wharton, respectively.
The Championship Trial came in for comment, many people considering that October was the wrong time in which to hold it. Scrutineering was criticised by S.U.N.B.A.C. and the Hants & Berks M.C., as not being consistent. The existing Trials Car Regulations were discussed freely, in particular the accommodatin,g of passengers beside the driver, even in four-seater cars. The Scottish Sporting, Ulster, Pathfinders and Derby, Lancia and M.G. clubs all aimed their brickbats on the subject of the National “five bob” Licence. Members of tile various A.C.U. centres expressed their gratitude at being invited to the meeting and the growing co-operation between car and motorcycle bodies was apparent.
The Bristol Motor-Cycle & L.C.C. expressed the feeling that much time could have been saved had clubs sent in their criticisms beforehand, rather than that verbal repetition should prolong the meeting.
In an effective reply, Maurice Toulmin dealt with most of the points raised.
Attendance to the bitter end was encouraged by the subsequent showing of the Shell film of the British Grand Prix.