MATTERS OF MOMENT, December 1950
MATTERS OF MOMENT
If it were not for the fact that 470 entrants presumably cannot he wrong, we should have written off the DON .Express 1,000-mile rally as an wiliceessary event. A modern car should have no difficulty in averaging 35 m.p.h. over the main and secondary roads of Britain in the hands of a compelling driver, providing he avoids the really inaccessible places and ice or fog do not intrude. Consequently, on paper, during this rally all competitors should have been able to snatch at least twelve hours for rest
and refuelling. As it was, certain competitors stalling on BwIch-y-Groes delayed those behind them and as the weather played up well with rain and mist, many seem to have finished late, and ready to protest as a result. This notwithstanding, we still maintain that the event was absurdly easy ; we believe that R. II. Lambert’s 1929 Standard Nine ” Ann Teak “arrived at the finish on schedule ! If 470 entrants are willing to pay £1,880 to the M.C.C. to compete. this old-established Club has obviously fulfilled a want. But on the face of it, the idea of losing two nights in bed in order to drive 1,000 miles on ordinary roads in a contest primarily decided on three simple tests not involving speeds much above 30 m.p.h., holds little allure. Moreover, in view of the general
dislike of cars retaining competition numbers on the public highway, what is the justification for allowing people to do this in great numbers, all over this island, with full R.A.C. sanction, when the event in which they are participating cannot claim International status, doesn’t attract tourists, scarcely constitutes a test of competing ears, and is run at a speed that should be within the compass of the ordinary family-car driver and a vintage car ? Better, surely, if such a rally must be organised, to let the tests take place first and the road-section later, when the ears could display their times in these numoeuvres for the benefit of those who watch the intrepid drivers go hurtling round England with Death beside them !
Seriously, what we really would like to see is a rally taking in a diversity of tests en roide and embracing sufficient rough stuff in %Vales and Scotland as to constitute a difficult test of man and car even when run in normal conditions of weather. When you refer back to the sort of routes which inexpensive light cars were called upon to negotiate twenty-five and more years ago when they entered for Edinburgh & D.M.C. and R.A.S.C. Six Days Trials and the things the J.C.C. thought
up to discover weaknesses in these same small cars in their affectionately-remembered General Efficiency Trial, twit month’s Rally of modern cars seems too tame to take seriously. It. should be possible to stage a speed sprint along a private drive, deflect competitors to a trials hill, give them a restart test on a severe gradient, make them average their 25 m.p.h. over some ” Colonial ” going in Scotland and observe them up some of the more notorious Welsh acclivities. At the finish a snore strict examination of cars could be imposed than that staged by IN, M.C.C., excellent as was the idea behind their check. In our
opinion all this should add up to an event that would justify the expenditure of money, time and exertion entailed in competing in it.
We do not wish to paint too black a picture of the Daily Express Rally. Even if in contemplation it seemed absurdly easy, in retrospect one has to admit there were difficulties (47 retired) and that the excitement which novice colimetition exponents were deriving from it was infectious. The sober nature of the final tests can no doubt be attributed to the fact that only half the width of Torbay Road was closed to ordinary traffic and consequently to let drivers really fling their vehicles about or put on their brakes from high speeds would perhaps have been inadvisable. ‘lite reason we are making these points is because something fiercer than the M.C.C.’s event must
be organised by the It for its British Rally next year. This is an International fixture and is likely to attract experienced foreign drivers and spectator tourists. Let us give them something worth competing in and watching.
Beequart and Secret, Of Monte Carlo Rally fame, entered and, although excluded bemuse a driver cannot hold National competition lie.enees for two countries, they expressed a desire to go round the course. Pretty obviously they had the 1951 British Rally in mind and wished to see what this little island’s roads are like. This is a pointer that opposition will be stiff, so /et us ensure that the route and tests are worthy of a keenly competitive entry, especially as, the date being June 4th-4tth, the R.A.C. cannot. rely on having the weather on their side. Turning to the Monte Carlo Rally, that intriguing fuss about the new regulation banning ears with proprietary engines where these are fitted to more than one make of car died away with the realisation that out of more than 600 British entries, only 70 could be nominated anyway. It was taken at first as a slight against many of our leading sports-car manufacturers, (Continued on page 622
such as Allard, II.R.G., Healey, Morgan, Fraser-Nash, Jensen, Connaught and Marauder and Mr. Sydney Allard protested strongly. But it seems more likely that the organisers merely wished to ensure that people did not coax Outsize-engined ” specials ” through the road section in order to score maximum marks in the final test, which comprises nothing less than a miniature road race. In fact, they are seeking to retain t he Monte Carlo Rally as the premier test of cars pour la grande tourisme. That the Hotchkiss which has won the last three Monte Carlo Rallies is just such a car is no censure on the organisers for penning a rule to exclude freak competition. although, as the Rally is already confined to catalogue cars with closed bodies, this could be criticised as making certain doubly sure. If this ruling should spread to other events Britain will have every reason to fear that it is directed expressly at her sporting products ; but is there any evidence that this is likely ? Certainly the R.A.C. has refused to panic over the new Monte Carlo ruling, and we may as well assume this is because it is satisfied rather than merely lethargic. We shall regret the absence of Sydney Allard, who last year was reported by the B.B.C. to be pressing on magnificently in fearful snowstorms with the Rally so nearly won for Britain (alas, it was not to be) while their own commentator, Richard Dimbleby, was snowbound in his chain-Jess Allard far behind. 13111 we can be confident that the inure normal British ears entered for the great winter test and adventure of January 23rd -31st, will ably uphold British prestige. Under article 4 of the regulations the R.A.C. had to make the British nominations. It claims to have taken into account success in past Monte Carlos, sueeess in other rallies and persons well known in other types of competition and has selected the following:
It will be noted that, although the organisers apparently stated quite clearly that the ban on proprietary engines excludes Allard. Healey and 11.11.G. cars, the R.A.C. has put in Riley, MG and Wolseley ears, whose engines, strictly speaking, are not made by the makers of these chassis. Ilinveyer, in an age when nearly every major part of every car is the product of a proprietary firm, we doubt very trutelt whether Bassett, Brinkman,
Cooper, Dargue. Finnigan, Hayward, Kevill-Davies, Oscar Moore, MeLaugldin, Bartlett or Whitehouse will encounter any trouble on this score. Incidentally, in view of the excellent 13.B.C. coverage last time, we are glad to learn that Raymond Baxter is going to accompany Gordon NVilkins in his Jowett Javelin. Finally, the fantastic Algiers-Cap?. Rally seems to have attracted over forty entries, including such an improbable car for this terrain as a Bugatti. The better-known drivers seem to favour American automobiles. This event is perhaps too vast to be categorised with other rallies, and competitors are likely to compete more against nature than one another, but very useful prestige in overseas markets should accrue to the winner. Nevertheless, the British industry may be correct in deciding that the capital out necessary to compete will not be returned by increased sales. The entries to date are :
Manson has been declared French Forratila 11 Champion.
Cecil (‘button, departing front his vintage cars to another hobby of his, lets, in conjunction with George Dixon, written a new book, ” The Organ,” that will be of absorbing interest to our musie-minded readers. Running to 172 pages, this book is obtainable. at I 2s. 6d., front all good book-sellers or from the Publishers, Grenville Ptiblishing Co., Ltd., 15/17, City Road, E.C.1. * * *
The 1951 edition of the ” Moron Semer Racing Car Review ” is bigger than before and adequately reviews in word and picture t Ite leading racing car; of the past season and their achievements. Technical specifications and full-page photographs are a feature of this useful reference work by I). S. Jenkinson. The price is 7s. 6d. (8s., post free) ; the publishers are the Grenville Publishing Co., Ltd. * * *
The Bristol M.C. & L.C.C. has its dinner, &nee and prizegiving at the ” Berkeley,” Bristol, on December I tth, and its A.C.M. at the Full Moon Hotel at 7.30 p.m. on December 19th.