EVERYONE who has heard of Barbara Bolster’s sad death as a result of a road accident will feel the deepest sympathy for her husband, John Bolster. The Bolsters were a great motoring family and their endeavours were always especially interesting to the ordinary enthusiast. Now Barbara and Richard have gone from amongst us and the sporting fraternity is never going to replace them. Barbara Skinner rose to fame very quickly, and before she became John Bolster’s wife, she was already right in the front rank of the exclusive body of really first-class lady racing drivers. She first appeared at Shelsley Walsh in September, 1932, when she drove a Morris “Isis “engined Morris-Cowley up in 53 sees., to take the Ladies’ Prize. She drove this same car in two R.A.C. Rallies, but after completing the 1,000-mile road sections without penalty, experienced trouble in the final tests. These disappointments led her to concentrate on sprint events, and she persuaded her father to install her brother Richard’s supercharged Morris Minor engine in another Morris Minor chassis. Due to faulty bearing metal, all the big-ends of this engine failed jie,t prior to the first Shelsley meeting of 1934, but it was rushed to the ‘ Glacier Metal Co., stripped, rebearinged and re-assembled. Barbara then drove the car to Shelsley in the early hours by way of running it in, discovered all manner of things wrong on an unofficial practice run and, after a much-needed breakfast, helped to do what work was possible in the time to improve matters. In spite of these handicaps she set up a new Ladies’ Record, in 46.6 sees., breaking Miss Sedgwick’s FrazerNash record by 1.4 secs. In 1935 she partnered Doreen Evans at Le Mans in Capt. Eyston’s M.G. team, finishing ninth. When she married
John Bolster, in 1936, Lord Nuffield made her a wedding present of the car, and she went on driving it to good purpose. Her successes included a class win at Lewes and fastest-time-of-the-day at Dancer’s End, while at Shelsley in 1937 she clocked 45.8 secs., although on this occasion she was 2.0 secs. slower than Kay Petre on one of the ” works ” Austins. Very many people were astounded at such an accomplishment with an absolutely standard Morris Minor chassis, her famous husband not excluded.
The Pomeroy Proposition
In The Motor of January 7th Laurence Pomeroy, Technical Editor, set out a very revolutionary plan for the popularization of motor racing. His proposition was to learn a lesson from yacht racing and completely standardize the mechanical elements of the competition. In short, to call for a one-design competition car, sold to owners through a club which would
hold fairly ambitious events open only to scrutineered vehicles of this especial sort. He visualises a car combining three main essentials : (a) a first cost of around £325, (b) a maximum speed of 100 m.p.h.. and (e) an operational economy, depreciation and entry fees for six races per annum inclusive, not exceeding t3 per week. We must confess that, on initial consideration, we dismissed the plan as hastily conceived and not a little unpalatable. Having heard Mr. Pomeroy patiently explain and enlarge on his proposition for the benefit of critics, after the 750 Club luncheon on February 1st, we are now willing to admit the soundness of the idea, whether or not it ever comes to fruition. Considered as a means of altering pre-war ty pe motoring sport, and even as a substitute for the greater part of Wit, we should say the project is an impossible one. Regarded as an additional form of motor racing, in the manner ‘Mr. Pomeroy plainly showed that he intended us to regard it, the proposal. in its elements at all events, seems workable. Motor
racing participants can be roughly divided into four categories : (i) the impecunious, who built “Specials” or ran vintage cars in small events ; (ii) those persons who dominated the smaller events and had prospects of some success in larger events, by running comparatively expensive machinery, having it professionally serviced if unable to devote his or her own time to this work ; (iii) the man or woman who showed a distinct appreciation for the sport, by occasionally handling a really good car in classic events, as an interlude between other pastimes, such as yachting, hunting, ski-ing, flying, etc. ; and (iv) the rich amateur or semi-professional who used the best possible equipment and raced seriously in Continental events. attaining, in one ease, acceptance in the highest school of all, a place in the MereCdes-Benz team, by reason of such training. Now Pomeroy is not in any way concerned with classes (i), (ii) or (iv). He has set the cost of his one-design competition car at some £325, and its operational cost at £150 per annum. The car operated by class (i) folk hardly costs these amounts, class (h) may be said to absorb some £1,000 a year without participation in Continental races, and we know that class (iv) ideals involve the expenditure of several thousands of pounds each season. Pomeroy seeks to give motor racing to people who cannot afford more than half the cost of seriously racing an E.R.A. and who are not in the least-interested in that aspect Of the game which many hundreds of enthusiasts find so enthralling, namely, work with their own soiled hands on self-devised, highly individual cars. If such people are offered the prospect of competitive motoring in racing and trials with a set estimate of the cost involved, with reasonable .reliability, in a car that they could use normally all the year round and drive to, and reasonably certainly from, the eircuit,,, they should surely be attracted away from ” A ” licence flying and such-like pursuits, to join our own ranks. If they exist. Pomeroy’s:justification for thinking they may very well ‘exist after the war has been won is that something like 150 persons a week bought new T-type M.G.s and about 100 a week new S.S. automobiles during the peace. These people did not necessarily represent the 100 per cent. enthusiast ; but they did show appreciation of the faster type of car, either for the joy of handling it, for the purpose of covering big mileages quickly and safely, or to impress the girlfriend. It seems obvious that they did not especially want indivi,tuality and in few cases did they wish to tinker. Such ears fitted into the lives of thousands of men and women, alongside the luxury fiat, the radiogram and the cocktail bar, as something enjoyable in itself and able to amplify enjoyment derived from other channels. Give this class of person (of whom over 10,000 showed up each year before this war at the agents for two sporting makes alone) the ability to race with some certainty of success for an additional outlay of £100 on car-cost and ask yourself if they are likely to be attracted. It seems that they might very well be. Pomeroy admits that, to him, sportsmanship implies a desire to win, so he proposes giving sportsmen and sportswomen a car capable Of being raced, and excitingly at that, and he ensures that a cheap ” Special ” or a £5,000 G.P. car will not come along and beat it. by offering one-design events to its owners. Driving skill alone would decide the issue, possibly allied to personal skill in cases of careful assembly of standard engine and chassis. Pomeroy modestly omits to claim a large proportion of R.A.F. and mechanized Army personnel as probable adherents to his scheme after the war, lie appears to favour one club as the medium through which the one-design car is bought and by which its special events are arranged. What, then, are the shortcomings of this revolutionary, and now widely discussed, scheme Vested interests might well
sink the ship, by permitting an unsatisfactory car to be sold for the money or because manufacturers losing the tender for the one-design car could easily force the accepted car off the market. The universal lack of sincere interest in motor racing might well prove impossible to overcome and education impractical to launch. Then, the class of person to whom one-design contests would appeal would have a very highly developed “will-to-win,” and instances would be likely to arise where unscrupulous owners, or unscrupulous firms, would instil secret speed to this end. Quite how victory by decimal divisions of one-mile-per-hour could ever be tied down to unlawful tuning, knowing existing scrutineers as we do, we entirely fail to see. Finally, there is the question of how the organising club would pay its way. Presumably it would have to drop other activities. Equally presumably it would be expected to offer prizes. The fair cost of the car to the purchaser leaves very little margin of royalty payable by the manufacturer to the club. Yet Pomeroy mentions £60 as likely to cover travelling and personal expenses over six events a year, for which entry fees are apparently included. These events would be something in the nature of a 100-mile race at Donington, 100-mile Brooklands outer circuit race, a 20-lap Mountain race, special class contests at Shelsley and Prescott and special prizes in three trials. If we regard this as representing seven days’ sport and the personal expenditure is as low as £3 per event, each entrant is permitted £39 a year to give to the club in the form of entry fees. Even with 20 one-design cars teeing up each time as an average, under £800 would seem all too little with which to run the club, find a score of good prizes and put over a full-scale Donington race. Technically, it can be queried whether the performance required is possible at the economy aimed at and to suggest that, if it is not, the project is doomed, simply because owners seeking more than 223 miles real racing and three trials a year for their outlay will suffer disillusionment and ridicule at the hands of Allards, 13.M.W.s, re-glanded vintage cars and Y..50 ” Specials ” alike ; and because those restricting themselves to one-design events will soon tire of racing in which skill and thrill is lacking. Even if the one-design manufacturer listens attentively enough to Mr. Pomeroy to produce a motor-car able to divest the rice pudding of its skin perfectly effectively, the Donington event will, it appears, be able to happen only once a season, as no ” gate ” sufficiently large to make the race pay for itself would happen—the spectacle of Featherstonefanshaw-Smythe and his fellow beings racing identical, disguised T-type M.G.s for some hours on end is likely to be no more attractive to the onlooker than seeing Lady X make her first solo flight, satisfying as these events are to the performers. So it seems that, although Mr. Pomeroy has thought up a proposition which may well benefit a certain section of the community and which merits our earnest consideration as a possible means of extending the scope of motor racing, he is, at the same time, likely to have to answer so many doubts expressed by existing enthusiasts as to wish we would all accept his proposal as did Sedan Fairy’s younger sister, who is reported to have greeted it with ; “How wizard !
I adore fast drivers and now they will not fool about in the garage and get their hands dirty.”
Mr. Pomeroy sketched his design for the required car in The Motor of January 21st, basing it on that of the T-type M.G. He considers that by using a 4.5 to 1 axle ratio, and putting on an aerodynamic body, a cruising speed of 75 m.p.h. would be possible on 23 b.h.p., at which speed the piston rate is 2,500 f.p.m. On the other hand, after talking of 100 m.p.h., he admits that this represents 5,500 r.p.m. in top gear, calling for a slight down grade or a favourable following wind, and, in trying to assess the car’s reliability under racing conditions, it should be borne in mind that 75 m.p.h. in third and 50 m.p.h. in second gear involve peak engine speed (5,500 r.p.m.) at a piston speed of 3,100 f.p.m. However, we know the streamlined 1,100-e.e. Fiat impressed Mr. Poineroy profoundly and his experience of what production engines will stand is extreme. Certainly he puts forward a most absorbing basis for an inexpensive, all-round competition car and we would be the last to doubt his claims, which embrace a fuel consumption of 28-30 m.p.g. at 75 m.p.h.
We wish to remind readers that, willing as the Editor and the City Road staff are to serve the enthusiast in the best possible way—there is a war on. At City Road important war printing takes precedence and only one member of the clerical staff can be spared for MOTOR SPORT business. So will those who have complaints .to make please bear with us and exhibit the maxinium possible patience when current or back issues go astray or are late in arriving. And will readers please only resort to the telephone in emergency and not at all for technical enlightenment. There are fairly obvious reasons why we cannot divulge the exact location of cars and parts mentioned in ” We Hear.” Addresses can always be supplied, or letters forwarded, if application is made to the Editor and postage paid.
Technical and other queries and requests for information will be dealt with by the Editor as far as possible, but he is fairly fully occupied—here, again, please remember the stamped envelope.
Articles connected with motors and motor-racing and letters for publication are more invaluable than ever, but prompt acknowledgment of the former is not always possible, for the foregoing reasons.
Normally, blocks to illustrate articles or letters can no longer by made from readers’ photographs.
People who ask us to mention that they have a fairly normal and expensive car for sale are respectfully reminded that we offer them a quite inexpensive advertising medium under “Sales and Wants.”
The Register-of-the-Unique has been quite successful and we hope to be in a position to publish it in its entirety next month. So if you can send details of interest may we have your postcard by February 28th. please?