McComb on Kaye Don

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Mr. Wilson McCOMB’S letter (page 1579, last month) about the prison sentence imposed on Kaye Don after his accident in the K3 MG Magnette during unofficial practice in the loM before the 1934 TT, which resulted in the death of his riding-mechanic Frankie Taylor, is rather embarrassing, as it is based on my Obituary Notice about Don. I would like to refer Mn. McComb to the half-page leader. titled “Kaye Don’s Conviction”, written by S. C. H. Davis, and published in The Aurocar of October 26th, 1934. If the accident was due to the “tiredness” of Kaye Don at the time of his clandestine run over unclosed roads on the evening of the crash, as McComb says, it seems very odd that Davis, the Sports Editor id The Aurocar, and one of the best-informed and most influential motor-racing writers of the time, where British races and drivers were concerned, should have sided so strongly with Don, against the finthngs of an loM jury, saying among other things that a racing driver protects with all his skill the mechanic who is to be his greatest companion in the race itself and who shares, and shares willingly, any dangers arising out of racing, knowing what show risks will be, and knowing also that in any test or practice an accident may possibly result. “No driver or mechanic could possibly consider the thing to be manslaughter”, said Sammy.

If it is true that Don’s “condition” was such that it contributed to, or was the direct cause of, Tayler being killed, how could Davis, who was always very strict over racing rules, written and unwritten, and who knew the true worth of racing mechanics, calmly refer suit being a driver’s duty to protect his passenger with all his skill, in summing-up Don’s accident?

Davis makes the point that the loM seemed very biased against racing drivers who had accidents, citing the case of T. A. S. O. Mathieson whose car injured a spectator when it took tour escape road in a 1933 loM race, legal action being commenced against him even though the spectator involved should not have been on the escape-road, which was out-of-bounds to the public. Sammy Davis compares this and Don’s conviction with the accident in which Basil Eyston was involved when driving to Phoenix Park for morning practice, no charge arising from this.

I am not saying McComb is wrong, only that I based the remark which appears in my tribute to Kaye Don, and to which he objects, on views others expressed soon after the Kaye Don conviction of 47 years ago, remembering, too, that some of his fellow racing drivers held a celebration dinner for Dun after his release from prison. The unhappy affair ruined Don’s racing career anyway, so one might feel that McComb could have left it alone. But as he has seen fit to raise the matter of Tayler’s death, it really should be cleared up, and I wonder whether the transcripts of the case still exist? — W.B.

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