Club News, February 1940

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B.O.C.

One club at least is not dead. The Bugatti Owners’ Club managed to produce another excellently printed issue of “Bugantics” before Christmas, and we believe that there may be an informal meeting in town one night this month or next. It is particularly asked that members should continue to pay a £1 1s subscription while the war is on, so that Prescott may be preserved for the advent of Peace. Lots of members are reported on active war duty. Col. Giles being on Special Service, Eric Giles in the A.F.S., Lord Howe in the R.N.V.R., C. P. Vaughan a lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment, R. W. Shakespeare a subaltern in the 3rd County of London Yeomanry, Denis Evans in the A.F.S., and so on. Congratulations to Shakespeare on his recent wedding. The Bugatti Service Station at Brixton, by the way, has closed down.

PLYMOUTH M.C.

At a recent social evening of the Plymouth M. C. everyone was surprised when over 200 souls attended. So it can be done!

MIDLAND C.C.

Leslie Wilson is toying with the idea of getting out a booklet giving the results of the twenty-six Open Shelsley Walsh hill climbs held in the recently-terminated Period of Peace. He has got as far as draughting a rough copy, which makes interesting reading. If we hunt up this data for ourselves we find that Raymond Mays and his 2-litre E.R.A. hold the absolute record in 37.37 secs. The blown 750 c.c. record rightly belongs to Hadley, with the Austin, in 40.05 secs. Caldicot’s unblown Austin Seven which ascended in 57.4 secs. in 1928 is also a class record holder and someone should be able to better that when we have yet another Shelsley. Fry’s Freikaiserwagen has both blown and unblown 1,100 c.c. records in 41.52 and 42.58 secs., respectively. The coveted blown 1,500 c.c. record is Fane’s with the twin-blower “Shelsley” Frazer-Nash, in 38.77 secs. The equivalent unblown record belongs to Barry Goodwin’s Frazer-Nash in 45.19 secs. Mays, of course, has the blown 2-litre record; Wilkinson has the unblown 2-litre record up to 42.04 secs. with the ex-Dobbs off-set monoplace Riley. Whitney Straight’s record of 40.0 secs. with the supercharged 3-litre Maserati has never been challenged, and that hard trier, K. W. Bear, has the unblown record with his Bugatti, in 43.49 secs. Baron holds the blown 5-litre class record in 41.14 secs., using the 3.3 G.P. Bugatti. Peter Skinner’s Hudson-engined “midget” has the unblown figure at a very fine 41.22 secs. Hans Stuck, on that memorable day in June, 1936, took up the Auto-Union over a streaming course in 45.2 secs., and has never been bettered in this class. Lycett has the unblown record at 44.08 secs., a remarkable effort with what we know to be a road car. Miss Stanley-Turner’s ladies’ record is 43.4 secs. with an Alta. Connell’s Darracq stands as the fastest T.T. type sports car, in 43.76 secs. Heal’s 1910 Fiat beams amongst Edwardians with a great ascent in 47.96 secs. The longest climb ever is H. Luff-Smith’s, on a 600 Wolseley in 1906, when the ascent occupied 601.6 secs.—incidentally, Luff-Smith was with L.M.B. Products some four or five years ago, as keen as ever, full of tales of the good old days, and still passengering on occasion on all-night trials.

WHY NOT?

Some time ago we ventured to wonder if there was any possibility of motoring contests between the various branches of A.R.P. It may seem an over-ambitions venture at first sight. However, it has to be borne in mind that Civil Defence, what with stretcher parties, ambulance units, A.F.S., demolition and decontaminating squads, war reserve police, etc., is a very extensive service, employing an extremely large body of personnel in our big cities alone and even having its own monthly journal. A little probing around would surely find sports-car owners amongst them, quite as keen to take part in a mild motoring contest as other members are to play hands at bridge, or take part in football matches, dart matches, table-tennis tournaments, and so on. And we imagine those workers off duty would be quite pleased to come along to watch, gaining additional interest because friends, or representatives of their especial service, would be in action. Which could not fail to have a beneficial influence, even if an infinitesimal one, on the future of the sport. Of course, the ideal would be a short handicap race for sports cars at the Crystal Palace circuit. Peter Clark would probably represent the police with his H.R.G., Jack Fry could run for the A.F.S. with his 4½-litre Bentley which does 100 m.p.h. with trailer on tow, we know of a keen representative for the stretcher parties who would probably run a T.T. Austin, and so on. If the Army, Navy and Air Force were also permitted inter-regimental, ship and squadron races quite a big meeting could come about. If you have any spare time, Harry Edwards, here is a possible way of spending it.

LEAMINGTON & D. M.C.C.

Social events have been held with commendable frequency, and recently a road event happened, in the form of a trial for pedal cycles. Other clubs please copy.

GENERAL NOTES

Motoring, thank goodness, still goes on, even if more limited in scope and frequency than any of us has yet fully realised. What a lot we are going to miss! What a host of memories one tries to stifle whenever the Ration Book comes out! Days when you rose early and went to the garage with hoar frost glinting in the golden morning sun, anxious to get the engine warm, breakfast, and be away to a gathering of trials’ folk in some far spot, roads empty and the steering wheel cold to touch even to the gloved hand. Or, maybe, a wet winter, very English morning when you could start rather later and enjoy motoring sport in country nearer home, discovering how little you really know of local scenery and finding, as darkness closed in, that you had gone much further afield than you realised, so that a fast run was called for when finally you emerged through the warmth and smoke-haze of the hotel where the results were solemnly announced. Petrol was yours in plenty then, nor had long nights of A.R.P. duty on an indifferent kip-machine brought a desire to hasten home to an early night. It would be late home too, on those days when you dressed with more than usual care and drove up to Donington or Shelsley or down to Prescott in a car carefully stocked the night before with sandwiches, field-glasses, shooting stick, giant umbrella and all the other impedimenta inseparable from a motor race. Recall the fun of those long, high speed journeys, when other enthusiasts in worthwhile motors were encountered, to be waved on or given your dust as you or your car felt inclined; those stops, intended to be brief, but lingering pleasantly, for the inevitable refreshment, at some port of call “only a short way from the course,” which always led to a panic that you would arrive late and so ensured a most excellent dice for the final distance . . . ? How picturesque is a big motor-race, drama unfolding before inwardly intense, yet outwardly blasé sportsmen, after the first hectic dash about behind the rails to get the right position, camera-case flapping wildly as you run. Then the drive home, perhaps pleasurable because early spring in England is unwarmed by the pale sunlight and the car is cosy, or, maybe, because it is a relief after baking for several hours in spite of the briefest and weirdest of sun-tan garb to drive with a flat screen. Quite as likely, of course, because it has been wet and the largest of golfing umbrellas and the finest Burberry cannot keep out the rain for ever and the most patient girl-friend cannot quite conceal her additional joy at seeing the chequered flag at times such as these. Whichever it is, certainly the pleasant anticipation of the badly-needed meal, the cheery entry into one or more hostelries later on, to drink the race-winner’s health in an atmosphere of positive fugginess, discussing every aspect of the event with a keenness only personal spectating thereat can provoke, surely have no parallels in war-time existence. At all events, no one used to mind the subsequent entry into the metropolis when the dark streets were empty of all save an isolated taxi and the first of the milk-floats.

There was the hurry and flurry of a bank-holiday week-end, when for so many of us an efficient car played a very large part and one only felt the strain of much driving as one strove to reach Brooklands in time for the first race. Again, Brooklands, on a big day, meant for Londoners a leisurely breakfast, the careful collection of passes, camera, glasses and race-card, possibly telephone calls to friends, before commencing the brief, but by its variety never dull, drive to this centre of motor-racing fashion. There were days with nothing special to do, when you drove a good car fast over familiar or unexplored roads, planning who to take and how to reach some fresh speed venue on the morrow, what time less fortunate mortals worked a little less diligently than usual in the confines of some city office, thoughts on the car which would take them on the same journey and on which they would soon be hard at work in preparation until an early hour on the day of the event. Lewes brings recollections of an easy run to a beautiful spot, with the sea and some little-explored scenery at hand to occupy a spring or summer evening thereafter. Finished are those night runs to follow or compete in a trial, each member of the crew a little keyed up at tea because the evening would entail digging out curious footwear, even more curious headgear, and lots of extra clothes, and of bribing someone to brew a thermos of potent coffee, and the telephone would disclose the keenness of the others by their over-anxious desire to confirm the time of starting and the exact point of assembly. Yes, happy days, which not so long ago seemed likely to go on indefinitely, with the secure knowledge that there was an event to visit every week-end, the same friends to meet in similar circumstances, perhaps the same passenger to share your boyish enthusiasms . . . How easily the days passed then, each weekend enjoyed to the full, each one remembered as likely as not by some trivial detail—those curiously lit cottages during a certain night journey, a fellow traveller met in some far-away cafe, a sunrise, a sunset maybe, the time when the car got a bit skittish on rain-soaked pave in the very early hours . . . Then, in the first few days of September, all this changed abruptly. Nevertheless, motoring still seems good; the car will be re-taxed. There was the attempt, not entirely successful, to climb a Buckinghamshire trial’s hill in a very small car, after a hasty meal at Mrs. Keyser’s in Amersham High Street, where the Mad Hatter’s top-hat hangs over the fire-place. There was a day’s run to Tonbridge, the Austin very fully loaded and driven fast on the outward trip, when we took the back routes and found excellent countryside, passing, too, the spot where we dug a Ford out of a deep snowdrift the previous Christmas—now the scene was bathed in winter sunlight and the Maginot Line seemed it might be no more than a myth. We finally got over to Sussex and lost ourselves, as we realised when a puncture on a hill called a halt. But the scenery and the open road well justified the expenditure of “Pool,” and we fed and thawed ourselves very pleasantly, at Mayfield, at “April Cottage,” which is XVI th century. You will find it if you look for the sign with the lambs on it. On Boxing Day the motor-cycle scramble near Pirbright had to be seen in spite of the cold without. It was certainly good to hear real exhaust notes, and to smell racing fuel again, even if scrambles do come very definitely into the “freak event” category and one lad would wear his girl’s scarf round his arm throughout this mild “dice.” We met Sydney Allard and the Mays in a Ford V8 saloon, quite cheerful in spite of a blown gasket on one bank of cylinders, and motoring ambitiously on comp. boots. There really was a good attendance and one noticed that many spectators arrived in three-wheelers, Morgan and B.S.A. On the homeward run the Austin lost its dynamo with much display of elektrickery, but we contrived to get it right back, after tea at an hotel where a family Christmas party was at peak revs. Certainly, the fuel ration is worrying, and lots of us may be fitter in consequence, for walking is excellent exercise. The car, for example, may be used to get into the country, and the crew bidden to walk. Then you can run back to town for tea and attend a show. Variation may be had by taking tea in the country and subsequently eating oranges and nuts in the cheap seats of an old-style country cinema, driving home late, preferably when the moon is up. Or one can drive farther out, walk, have tea, and occupy the evening with the run home. There you have an excellent way of spending all the Sundays in a month, which alone seems sufficient justification for re-taxing the car. In our case the problem of where to walk was solved by a friend who left the three series of “Country Walks,” by Charles White (L.P.T.B. 3d. each), in the cubby hole. These little books cover 800 miles walking all within 80 miles of Charing Cross, so with a small car a day so spent will only use 1 to 1½ gallons of precious fuel. How to get the passengers to hike is a greater problem . . .