RALPH DE PALMA
Sir,—I have recently enjoyed reading ” Motor Racing and Record Breaking ” by Captain Eyston and Barre Lyndon, and naturally was interested in the chapter on American Racing and American drivers. Several of our leading drivers are mentioned, but I was a bit puzzled by the omission of one of the most famous of all our racing drivers who, by the great number of his successes and the length of his career, must rank in the first group of really outstanding racing men. In 1933, he was the guest of honour at a dinner celebrating his twenty-fifth year of continuous participation in the sport of motor racing.
His first year of racing saw him a member of the Fiat team with Felice Nazzaro and Louis Wagner, when they took part in the American Grand Prize race at Savannah in 1908. That year he beat the redoubtable Barney Oldfield three times in succession and won the championship that season with thirty victories out of thirty-six starts. Since then, his list of successes has included the Indianapolis 600-mile Race in 1912, on a Mercedes, The Vanderbilt Cup twice with Mercedes cars, the Elgin Trophy Road Race three times, twice on a Mercedes and once on a Ballot, in 1912, 1914 and 1920 (he also drove a Ford in the stock car event when this race was revived in 1933), the Chicago Automobile Club ,Trophy twice with a Mercedes, second place in the French Grand Prix of 1921 on a Ballot, and many world’s records, including the land speed record in 1919 at 149 m.p.h. with a Packard.
The number of dirt track, board track and road races in which he has competed must run well into four figures. As late as 1925, he won three 100-mile dirt track races, including the championship event at Syracuse against the pick of American drivers.
Among the cars he has handled are listed Fiat, Mercedes, Packard, Ballot, Mercer, Duesenberg and Miller. He was also scheduled to drive a Vauxhall in the famous French Grand Prix of 1914 but .the car either did not reach the starting line, or else dropped out early in the race.
Surely this is a record of which Ralph de Palma may well be proud. I am, yours, etc.,
E. C. WATERI-IOUSE. 670, Main Street,
Hartford, Conn., U.S.A.
Sir,—With reference to a statement in your January issue that Mr. W. E. Wilkinson was spare driver in the 1934 500-miles Race to Mr. R. E. Tongue, his car finishing fourth. I fear this is slightly inaccurate. In actual fact, Mr. W. E. Wilkinson was my spare driver in an M.G. Magnette. The car was indeed repaired by him, but did not finish, having only covered 162 laps when the race ended.
In the interests of accuracy, I should be glad if you could find space to publish this letter. I am, yours, etc.,
P. L. DONKIN. No. 16 (AC) Squadron, Royal Air Force, Old Sarum,
HAVE YOU A PRE-WAR CAR?
Sir,—There has been a certain amount of general feeling recently that motors of the Edwardian era should receive some sort of public recognition, in the same way as the pre-1905s in the Brighton run, etc.
Anyone interested may therefore care to know that the Vintage Sports-Car Club has had this in mind for some little time, and if sufficient pre-war machines come into the Club, it is proposed to run special classes for them in Speed Events.
Some sort of handicapping would clearly have to be used, and the brightest scheme to date has been made by Mr. C. P. L-Nicholson, who suggests a formula taking into account the age, weight and engine capacity of the vehicle, which should be capable of giving an equal chance to all sorts and ages.
There is already a fine nucleus of these fascinating machines in the Club, but there must be many other owners of them who would like to be provided with a means of meeting and competing against similar enthusiasts.
The Secretary of the Club is Mr. E. T. Lewis, 31, Rusland Road, Harrow, and he or I will be glad to answer any enquiries relating to the scheme. I am, yours, etc., C. CI.UTTON. Vintage Sports-Car Club, The Old Manor House, Littleton,
Sir,—During the last twelve months, some agitation has been expressed in competition circles on account of the public’s attitude to reliability trials and their growing antagonism to these events. Many suggestions have been made as to
the reason for this unsatisfactory state of affairs, but it may interest readers to know the point of view of a resident in Crowell village, which, as all enthusiasts know, is at the foot of Crowell Hill. This resident, a young man of sporting persuasions, expressed the view that ” he was getting fed-up with these trials.” He said that, when there were only one or two trials in the year, nobody minded putting up with a little discomfort, if that discomfort gave others an enjoyable afternoon in the country. But, nowadays, hardly a Sunday passes without the inevitable trials drivers appearing to disturb the village’s Sunday afternoon siesta. On one occasion, a club ran up the Hill twice in one day. Often, the cars are halted in the village itself, outside some unfortunate’s house, and his peace is disturbed by a thoughtless motorist or motor-cyclist keeping his engine warm by ” blipping ” the throttle.
That, briefly, is the non-participant’s point of view and it seems to me that the solution to these problems is to run fewer trials in the district and, last but not least, for all competitors to cultivate the art of considering others, which is the essence of good manners.
Although these are in the minority, there are certain members of the trials driving fraternity who exhibit the most shocking bad manners whenever they appear in a trial.
Recently, I watched the start of a trial in this very Chiltern area and I was disgusted by the appalling bad manners of certain competitors and one official, who tore along the main road in a Morris saloon, suddenly swerved into the entrance of the garage, with two wheels all but off the ground, and drew up at the petrol pumps with locked wheels. An unnecessary exhibition of dash, which can have saved two seconds at the very most. Were those two seconds so very vital? Anyway, it did not impress noncompetitors at all favourably. A moment later, a competitor shot out into the main road at unnecessary speed and only avoided an accident by standing hard on his brakes.
It is to be hoped that organisers will make every effort to avoid offending the public and will disqualify any competitor who is seen to drive in the manner described. That is, if competitors themselves cannot be trusted to drive like gentlemen and not road-hogs. I am, yours, etc.,
A COMPETITOR. Hammersmith, W.6.
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