Matters of Moment, December 1969
• Adventure Ahead
However expensive and congested and policed everyday motoring is becoming, there is no denying that competition motoring in this country enjoys great popularity and diversity. This is true not only of motor sport in land, but also in the air and on the water. On two wheels, four wheels, occasionally on three, the sport thrives, in all manner of forms.
But if the average sporting fixture attracts interest and support, how much more so do the big and unique fixtures. The London-Sydney Marathon organised by the Daily Express brought the public in large numbers to the Crystal Palace to see the start and the progress of the intrepid drivers was followed avidly until the finish, with the Rootes entry home in first place. Whether the Daily Mirror’s London-Mexico World Cup Rally, scheduled to start from Wembley Stadium on April 19th next year, will be a similar or greater success or a dismal flop we are not at this date prepared to debate. But while it may be difficult to reconcile the football stadium start and the football tie-ups of well-known competitors with serious rallying, this commercialism in motor sport is with us and should not necessarily detract from what could be the toughest rally yet, over a 15,000-mile route. At all events, it is attracting plenty of support, from ladies who think housewives could win, to the serious competitors, like BLMC and Ford, who no doubt hope to avenge Rootes’ Marathon mickey-taking.
Apart from this ambitious rally to look forward to there is growing participation by motoring personalities in fierce power-boat races. Another adventure which lies ahead is the BP London-Australia air race, which starts from Gatwick on December 17th. After the fun of the Daily Mail Cross-Channel Air Race and the prestige-stealing Marathon Rally of the Daily Express Motor Sport suggested that the Mail could recoup by having a Trans-Atlantic Air Race. This duly happened, and very exciting and useful to British aeroplanes it proved to be. It seems that the next event of this sort which the courageous Daily Mail might contemplate is a re-play of the London-Melbourne Air Race of 1934, which some of our older readers may remember as having starred from bleak Mildenhall and which demonstrated the superiority of the American Douglas twin-engined DC-2 air-liner, later inmortalised as the Dakota, and caused the wooden DH88 Comets to be built, with the war-time pay-off of those DH Mosquitos, so fast they were able to penetrate unarmed into enemy skies.
Be that as it may, BP have as it were stepped into the breach with their 12,000-mile London-Sydney handicap race tor executive-class and light aeroplanes. The route is via control points at Athens, Karachi, Calcutta, Singapore, Darwin and Adelaide, reminiscent of the pioneering Empire air route days. The finish is at Sydney 17 days after the start and prize money totals £46,048. The race commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first England-Australia flight by Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith in a Vickers Vimy, which took 28 days, Hounslow to Darwin.
As quite a number of motor racing personalities are interested in the smaller aeroplanes this is another adventure to which our world can look forward.
• Georges Roesch
We regret to have to report the death, at the age of 78 after declining health in recent times, of the talented Swiss automobile engineer, Georges Roesch. His name will be forever linked with the excellence and individuality of the pre-Rootes Talbot cars. which achieved such remarkable success in sport, car races, the Alpine Rally, round the Brooklands outer-circuit, etc. Roesch gained these victories with simple push-rod o.h.v. engines by pioneering high compression ratios and evolving light and efficient valve gear. He was bitterly disillusioned after Rootes absorbed the old Talbot Company and turned to gas turbine work at the RAE during the war. Motor Sport drew him out by doing a series of articles on his cars and when the STD Register invited Roesch to attend one of their meetings and he saw how much interest his Talbots still created, his former enthusiasm was partially restored. He even drove one of his cars in driving tests and began to attend many STD functions, always emphasising the superiority of Roesch Talbots over Coatalen Sunbeams and insisting that modern engines are but poor parodies of his famous push-rod power units. Incidentally, in those latter times this astute designer favoured the smaller rear-engined Fiats as personal transport. Only weeks before his death Georges went to the Sandhurst Rally as a passenger in an open Talbot 90 and this fact, and his last holiday in his native Switzerland, gave him strength during the closing stages of illness and loss of his sight. For that his admirers and friends were grateful. To the sister who nursed him go our heartfelt condolences. The forthcoming Talbot History by Anthony Blight will form a fitting memorial to the life and work of this great engineer, whose kind are rapidly passing from the motoring scene.
Thomson & Taylor Expand (Brooklands) Ltd. held a pleasant drinking party recently to celebrate the expansion of the well-known premises at Portsmouth Road, Cobham, which Roy Salvadori has taken over for the purpose of selling, repairing and giving even better service for Alfa Romeo customers, under the Gulf banner. T&Ts were the leading Brooklands racing car engineers in pre-war days and personalities from those days present at the opening of the fine new showrooms included ex-T&T mechanic Jim Rands and Jack Sopp, R. F. Oats, all the way from Cornwall in his Jaguar, and others. Dr. Wright’s 1930 1750 Alfa Romeo was on display in the showroom. We chatted with Jack Fairman and Innes Ireland and listened to a witty speech by John Wyer, who had introduced Gulf to T&Ts and who recalled the Brooklands’ era under Plain Taylor, Parry Thomas’ Chief Engineer, so called because when someone asked if he was Mr. Taylor he replied dryly, “No, just plain Taylor.” Alfa Romeo have given their blessing to the venture and a Director from Milan and Barry Needham from the London Alfa Romeo Centre were present to emphasise this. We wish Salvadori, himself conversant with racing Alfa Romeos, success in carrying on the long tradition of T&Ts.
Dunlop SP Sports Tyres for Rovers
Dunlop’s SP Sport high-performance radial tyres have been approved by The Rover Company Ltd. following intensive testing in Italy with Dunlop engineers. Rover originally used Dunlop SP3s and in recent years Dunlop SP41s. The SP Sport is now available for original equipment and replacement on the Rover 2000s in size 165HR-14 tubeless and by the end of the year will be available and supplied to Rover in size 185HR-14 for the 3500 model.
We have been using these tyres on a Rover 2000TC for nearly 14,000 miles and can report that not only is understeer reduced and the steering made lighter but that the grip on slippery roads is most commendable. Moreover, in this mileage the rate of wear has been satisfactorily low.—W. B.
Castrol’s latest film, entitled La Ronde Infernale, was shown in London at the beginning of November prior to becoming available to clubs from January onwards. Following the usual Castrol format of driver interviews followed by highlights of the race, this well-made colour account of the Vingt-Quatre Heures is not allowed to suffer for the reason that the race was won by a Ford GT40 using a rival product. It makes enthralling viewing, climaxed by the two-second margin separating the Ford from the second-place Porsche. Particularly impressive are some “long tom” shots taken at the end of the Mulsanne straight, where the stability of the Porsche 917s looks more than a little dubious, although the length of the lens in use makes it appear that the cars are travelling at an eerily slow pace. The commentary, by Maxwell Boyd, is informative and free of gimmicks: this is a film which will interest all enthusiasts, and others, too.—M. G. D.
An addition to the ever-growing range of V-E-V bric a brac is a series of cufflinks styled to represent the radiators of various well-loved cars. The links are carefully made in silver and plated in gold: make your choice from Model T Ford, Bullnose Morris Cowley, (shown here), 30-98 Vauxhall and various models of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and M.G. The makers are “Radilinks” of 8 Legge Lane, Birmingham 1 and the price per pair is 5 guineas.