The Amateur Road Race and the A.C.U.

Many views have already been expressed about this, but here is another side of the question. Our contributor gives the point of view of the Isle of Man, and so throws some further light on the question.

In view of the decision of the A.C.U. not to permit the running, in 1930, of the Amateur Race, an article tracing its origin and development will be of interest to many readers of MOTOR SPORT. The writer has been in touch with the organisers of the race, and also with other persons in the Island in no way connected with the event, and it appears that there are a number of facts which have not been mentioned in the lay Press, but which should be known before passing judgment on the decision.

The T.T. races had been successfully run in the Isle of Man for many years, and the organisers were given exceptional facilities in the way of road improvements and closing. In 1923, however, the A.C.U. received a tempting offer to hold the races in Belgium, and forgetting what they owed to their hosts of former years, were preparing to do so. Strenuous efforts were made to oppose this move, and Mr. George Brown, at that time A.C.U. Consul in the Isle of Man, had the satisfaction of seeing the success of his endeavours.

After one incident of this sort, motor cyclists in the Island were afraid that the same thing might happen again, and to guard against the chance of the loss of their races, sought about for another event which could take the place of the T.T. For some years there had been a demand for a race in which private owners could take part without having to compete with the highly organised teams of trade entrants ; the Manx Motor Cycle Club therefore decided to hold an Amateur Road Race Championship. There is no need to give details of the success of this event ; it is enough to say that in 1928 the number of entries made it necessary to run a Junior and a Senior Race.

The popularity of the Amateur Race was such that the A.C.U. soon tried to gain control. At one time the body tried to get the organising transferred to themselves, and last year an effort was made to get one of their committee appointed a Steward. Obstacles were placed in the way of the organisers, notably over the question of insurance, and again over the number of entrants being too great for one race ; the Club replied by organising two races. Of late years, manufacturers have been complaining of the high cost of sending teams to the Island, especially when they saw how much publicity was gained by the makers of the winning machines in the Amateur events. It seemed as though the life of the T.T. races were limited, and the parent body became extremely alarmed at the chance of losing their most important event.

In the 1929 Amateur Races, manufacturers were asked if they had given bonuses, and it was found that some of the riders had been given oil. The Stewards asked the A-C.U. if oil was an accessory, and being told that it was not, permitted these riders to take part in the Races. Whether the riders had acted in contravention of the spirit of the rules is a debatable point, but it is certain that the Stewards had a perfect right to permit them to ride if they thought that no infringement of the rules had taken place. The A.C.U. then laid down that riders who had taken oil were suspended irrespective of any defence they might be able to bring forward, and also censured the Club Stewards without hearing their side of the question.

The latest development is the refusal of the A-C.U. to permit the holding of Amateur races, since they allege that a true definition of an “amateur” cannot be found. The more general opinion in the Isle of Man is that the A.C.U. is afraid that the manufacturers will cease to support the expensive T.T. races, and will rely on the advertisement given to their machines by the wins made by amateur riders. If the parent body persists in this attitude, the Manx Clubs will then have to form a Union of their own, under the F.I.C.M., as was suggested by a writer in the Isle of Man Times.

The loss of the T.T. races would be very unfortunate for all parties concerned. The British motorcycle industry would lose a great testing ground for their machines, for designs not available to the general public may not be ridden in the Amateur races. The Island would lose a great deal of publicity, apart from the actual monetary gain. Lastly, the A.C.U. would lose the revenue now accruing from the organising of the races.

The Union cannot compel the Trade to enter against their will, but they would be well advised to remain on good terms with the Island, and not to interfere too much in a most interesting race even though one not run by their own officials. The grant of £5,000 by the Insular Government, £1,500 of which is to be devoted to the encouragement of foreign riders, and the remaining £3,500 to prizes shows that the people of the Isle of Man realise the importance of motorcycle racing. If they decide to apply for separate membership of the F.I.C.M., there seems little doubt that a T.T. as well as an Amateur Race could be run by a Manx Union, so that the Island would not suffer any loss by the transfer of power to its own hand.