Motoring Sportsmen by the Editor–)
No. 6. Dr. J. D. Benjafield
M.D. (Lond.), etc. TT is a matter of conjecture whether Dr. J. D. Benja
field owes his popularity to his achievements in bacteriology, in which science he has done so much to relieve suffering mankind, or to his meteoric rise to fame in the ranks of the genuine amateur racing motorist. We have had the pleasure of witnessing him at work in his laboratories, where virulent organisms are obedient to his will and almost begin to suspect that he has succeeded in cultivating some potent form of Speed Virus, with which he has secretly innoculated the car he affectionately calls “Baby Bentley.” Prior to the year 1923, Dr. Benjafield’s interest in motoring was confined to the use of cars for professional purposes ; but on the water, he may justly claim more than the average amount of motor boating experience, until on losing his boat in adventurous circumstances, his attention turned to motor racing
Like so many other professional men with heavy demands upon their energies, Dr. Benj afield felt the need for some form of recreation to provide a complete relaxation from his duties and decided that the Brooklands Race Track provided a solution to the problem. As he explained, the track is within easy reach of town, and all the meetings are held at convenient times, so that the hobby of track racing can be indulged in with the least interference with his normal activities.
Possibly some professional men might be inclined to the opinion that track racing makes too heavy a demand Upon one’s physical and nervous system, but while Dr. Benjafield admits the need for normal physique and nerve control, he is quite ready to recommend track racing as an admirable hobby, which by providing one with an intensely interesting amusement, is a great factor in keeping one young. The Doctor’s experience as a racing motorist is extremely interesting, in that he took it up from the zero point,” so to speak, and the temperature chart of his enthusiasm took an upward curve from the moment he first took the wheel of his health reviving Bentley. Questioned as to the possible risks of the racing novitiate, Dr. Benj afield replied that provided one was in good condition, chose a suitable mount,
and was content to graduate for real racing by assiduous practice, speed work at Brooklands was but little more dangerous than ordinary touring. “But, as an amateur,” he continued,” for the benefit of racing novices, I would urge the necessity for achieving speed by easy stages. At eighty miles an hour or so, there is little difficulty for a driver of average skill, the trouble begins if one, having become accustomed to the track at that speed, makes a sudden attempt to travel round the hundred mark,’ for then everything seems different ; and, before one realises the fact, very awkward circumstances may arise.”
In fact, Dr. Benj afield was most emphatic in the opinion that no novice should be allowed to compete in any race until he had satisfied the track authorities by making a certain number of practice laps, or put in a definite number of driving hours round the course, that he is qualified to do so.
Speaking of his debut as an amateur racer, he expressed his appreciation of the welcome he received from the old hands at the game ; who, he said, were always ready to help in any way possible and this spirit of real sportsmanship is one of the principal attractions among the competitors at Brooklands. Readers are too familiar with details of the various successes gained by Dr. Benj afield to need any reminder in this brief sketch, but it is interesting to notice that since he acquired the Bentley last year, the speed of the machine has increased very considerably, and though we are not permitted to disclose the results of the latest
tests, readers may be safe in assuming that he hopes the car will not be any slower when it comes to the starting line at the first meeting this year.
Though Dr. Benjafield has little time to devote to mechanical details, he invariably supervises any “hotting up” processes on his car, and the extent of his keenness in this side of racing may be judged by the following incident. Prior to one of the important races last year, the engine suddenly “went Bolshie ” during a practice trip, and some of the connecting rods saw the light of day through apertures in the crankcase they had made for the purpose. This meant some hurried repairs, and thanks to the good services of the Bentley Service Department, the wrecked machine was towed to the works, where it was rebuilt from old parts in
stock, the job going on from Saturday afternoon, through the night and on through the following day and night. The Doctor worked almost continuously during the whole period, then drove the car to Folkestone and back, to run the engine in, and turning up in time for the race, was successful in getting first place. Inciden
tally, on the day of the race he went to the post with a temperature of 103 degrees, which reminds us of the old saying “Physician heal thyself.”
Dr. Benj afield is an out-and-out Bentley enthusiast, has a very good opinion of the Memini carburettor and uses a very fine Bentley saloon for his professional work. The latter is sometimes thrown out of commission temporarily when parts are borrowed to use on “Baby Bentley,” but as far as we are able to judge, neither suffers from the transfusion.
In discussing motor racing generally, Dr. Benjafield remarked upon the surprising ease with which one may gain fame, but our readers will agree that this is a matter of opinion, for any success entails much skill and hard work, even if the necessary facilities exist.
Notwithstanding his enthusiasm for motor racing, the Doctor has no intention of robbing his beloved germs of the fatherly attention he bestows upon them, so that motoring cannot be accused of depriving the world at large of researches, about which it knows so little, but from which it benefits so greatly.