Matters of the Moment
The Late Sir Malcolm Campbell
The news that Sir Malcolm. Campbell passed away in his sleep on December 31st at the age of 63 comes as a great shock, not only to the motoring world but to the entire sporting fraternity. His health and sight had been failing of recent years, but Sir Malcolm made valiant attempts to stave off the depression that had begun to assail hint and, indeed, he hoped to attempt to raise his own water speed record with a jet-propelled boat when he was taken from us.
Malcolm Campbell was interested in speed from his schooldays and before the 1914-18 war was a regular competitor at Brooklands, at first with motor-cycles, then with his “Bluebird” Gregoire, Sunbeam, Charron and Darracq cars. In one of the latter he had a remarkable escape when both wheels on one side of the car collapsed as it was running up the Finishing straight at full speed. After the war, in which he served with the infantry and then in the R.F.C., Campbell resumed his Brooklands work with an astonishing variety of cars — Lorraine-Dietrich, Talbot, Peugeot, Austro-Daimler, Ballot, Itala, Sunbeam, Star, Ansaldo, La Pearl, Chrysler, Bugatti, Mercédès-Benz and Delage. Campbell moved to a house near Brooklands and took the premises at the track now occupied by the Brooklands Engineering Co., Ltd. His successes were many. In the first year of Mountain racing he set the lap record for the new course, with his 1 1/2-litre straight-eight Grand Prix Delage, and in 1934, in the rebuilt 4-litre V12 Sunbeam, to-day at Monaco, Ltd., he set a Class C Mountain lap record of 76.31. m.p.h., which was never beaten.
It was in the field of record-breaking Campbell really left his mark. He broke the absolute car speed record no fewer than nine times, commencing in 1924 with the V12 350-h.p. Sunbeam to-day owned by Harold Pratley, at 146.16 m.p.h., and making his last record in 1935, at 301.13 m.p.h., in his huge Rolls-Royce-Campbell, being the first man to exceed 300 m.p.h. in a car. His run at Daytona at 276.82 m.p.h. in 1935 is the highest speed ever achieved over a sand course. Not long before this, in 1931, Campbell received a knighthood for his work for Britain in the land speed record sphere, his speed that year being 246.09 m.p.h. in the Napier-Campbell.
Sir Malcolm Campbell was just as successful, just as painstaking over the motor-boat speed record, which he raised to 124.86 m.p.h. in 1937, to 130.86 m.p.h. in 1938, and which he leaves at the magnificent figure of 141.7 m.p.h., a speed attained in 1939.
Campbell even contrived to do dispatch work on a motorcycle during the last war and gave a very detailed lecture to the N.L.E.C.C. only last winter. He appeared to have many years before him, but possibly his easy withdrawal from a world he must have found increasingly oppressive, was a merciful stroke of fate. Looking back it is hard to recall all this purposeful little man did for his country — he searched for treasure, flew vast distances in light aeroplanes, and broke the land and water speed records with equal facility. He was responsible for the Brooklands road circuit and, less to his credit, the sale of Brooklands. That the world is poorer by far for the loss of such individuals as Sir Malcolm Campbell is undeniable.
A Case for Motor Racing.
The year 1949 looks like being the best since the war from the viewpoint of the sporting motorist. At last we can look forward to a full season with two circuits available in this country and permission for the smaller clubs to hold meetings at one of these new venues.
There is no gainsaying the growing public interest in all forms of motor sport. Since the war, at Elstree, at Luton Hoo, at Prescott, at Goodwood and, finally, at Silverstone, as at many other places, crowds greater than any seen pre-war spectated enthusiastically.
At last year’s Earls Court Motor Show a record number of persons paid for admission and, if there was a feeling that some amongst them were members of the new sight-seeing class, delighted to have another excuse for spending its money, the increased attendance compared to that at any pre-war Exhibition cannot have been accounted for by these folk alone.
It was, indeed, evident that the British public wants to motor. On all sides at Earls Court the query was “How much?” or “When can we get delivery?” With a General Election imminent, politicians of all parties should reflect on the votes, value of more and cheaper cars, more petrol and fewer motoring restrictions.
However, we are less concerned with the joys that humble personal transportation brings than with the well-being of those who seek to motor competitively — and who by so doing frequently enhance materially the prestige of their country.
Already we can count a few official blessings. The Government, through the R.A.C., saw fit to provide the petrol coupons which British entrants in the Monte Carlo Rally required, and the Board of Trade has agreed to withdraw Purchase Tax from racing cars if and when a water-tight definition of the pure racing car can be thought up. 1949 has started well! Let us hope for further blessings from our politicians.
Listening-in on Boxing Day to the first of the Reith lectures broadcast in the Home Service by the B.B.C., we were profoundly impressed with the sound case Bertrand Russell, speaking on “Social Cohesion and Human Nature,” made out for motor racing. He did not actually refer to motor racing, but he did state that human survival depends on combining individual initiative with social cohesion and that the elimination of all danger does not make for human happiness. Man sub-consciously seeks a substitute for blood revenge practised in primitive times and suffers from the lack of adventure, danger and contest compatible with civilised existence. Repressions, said Bertrand Russell, are not easily dispelled unless the individual can enjoy an element of danger and an innocent outlet for his competitive instincts. We humbly suggest that, had the learned speaker deliberately set out to do so, he could hardly have made out a better case for motor racing!
1948 showed us that, apart from the fortunates who participated, 100,000 men and women derived excitement and stimulation from spectating at a single British motor race. Surely if the people of this country were able to follow the fortunes of a worthy National Grand Prix team across Europe and witness it in action at their home tracks they would gain a share in the adventure, the individualism, even in the element of danger that is the very essence of motor racing. Which could not fail to do good to the whole nation, both by way of increased engineering prestige and, based on Bertrand Russell’s beliefs, by the enhanced psychological well-being of its citizens.
The Trade has been generous to the B.R.M. project. But a successful team of Grand Prix racing cars can absorb money at the rate of about a quarter of a million pounds per annum. If the Government, intent on a revolutionary building-up of the entire country, can afford to lose several millions a year in respect of civil aviation, it should be able to afford, very easily, the far more modest outlay which would enable it to invest in a team of British racing cars likely to enhance our prestige the world over. If this investment were made, and if, at the same time, legislation adversely affecting the ordinary car owner were to be toned down, 1949 would long be remembered as the year in which the Government’s apparently unsympathetic attitude towards motoring was, to some extent, modified.
The British Automobile Racing Club.
It has been known that since before the war the Council of the Junior Car Club has felt uncomfortable about the “Junior” aspect of its club’s title. Accordingly, at the annual general meeting on January 27th, it recommended a change of name to that of “British Automobile Racing Club.” We closed for press as this meeting was taking place, but we shall be surprised if the new title is not adopted. And, in some ways, we shall be sorry, because the initials J.C.C. cover so much that is traditional.
Founded in 1912 as the Cyclecar Club, the first change of title came soon after the Kaiser war, when that of Junior Car Club was adopted so that membership should embrace not only cyclecars but more ambitious examples of the New Motoring, as the economy-car movement was known at that time. It was stipulated that membership be confined to owners of cars the engine capacity of which did not exceed 1,500 c.c. and it was not until 1929 that this requirement was over-ruled.
Already the Junior Car Club had organised the highly successful series of 200-Mile Races at Brooklands, which have since become the subject of a full-length book by the Editor of Motor Sport. In 1929, under the able guidance of Secretary “Bunny” Dyer, this always enterprising and efficient club organised the ambitious Double Twelve-Hour Race, also at Brooklands, this being replaced in 1932 by the 1,000-Mile Race, and the following year by the highly ingenious International Trophy Race. When Dyer resigned, John Morgan, the present Secretary, carried on just as enthusiastically, and he was responsible for reviving the 200-Mile Race at Donington in 1936 and for those excellent Jersey road races that we were able to enjoy in 1947 and 1948. Certainly the Junior Car Club was “junior” in name only. Yet is that a sufficient reason for changing its name? It is like altering the title of the Junior Carlton Club to “London Carlton Club,” or something similar, and just about as disturbing.
However, if the name must be altered, “British Automobile Racing Club ” seems quite a good title, although one not entirely compatible with the club’s social, rally and other non-racing activities. We have heard it suggested that the title will be misleading to foreigners and others not fully conversant with the administrative side of motor sport in this country, inasmuch as “British Automobile Racing Club” suggests the premier race-organising body in the British Isles, whereas the club proposes to specialise in short races at Goodwood, which, excellent as they will be and much as enthusiasts are looking forward to them, will not be as important as long-distance races organised by the R.A.C., and probably by the B.R.D.C. at Silverstone. Against that it can be argued that similar inconsistencies existed pre-war — for instance, the great Grands Prix at Donington, which were the only British races to attract the legendary German teams, were organised by a club with the colloquial name of the Derby and District M.C. and other classic long-distance races have been run by the Essex M.C. — and that the Jersey International Road Race held annually by the [late?] Junior Car Club ranks as one of the really important British fixtures. Certainly the initials “B.A.R.C.” carry on the tradition of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, which the J.C.C. absorbed, and the goodwill thereof was, we know, not overlooked in putting forward the new title. Indeed, it seems possible that some of the Brooklands’ property which the J.C.C. acquired may be useable again, directly on account of the adoption of identical initials — items, that is, like officials’ caps, car badges (if the name “Brooklands” could be deleted), tickets, tankards and so forth, which is something no one should scorn in this age of austerity. This, however, is pure surmise and does not emanate from the Club. Another advantage of the new title is that it is likely to appeal strongly to prospective members to whom the Junior Car Club meant little or nothing. Against that, there are those who, glad as they are to talk and read about Brooklands, regard the B.A.R.C. as a closed chapter, so that the revival of these initials may prove distasteful to them, and even confusing.
On the whole, however, although we are sufficiently old-fashioned to regret that the time has arrived when the well-respected and honoured title “Junior Car Club” is considered to have outlived its purpose, we confess we find it impossible to think of a better new title. And, whatever one’s personal opinion, there is no gainsaying the fact that this club will continue to expand in that manner which, by sheer good organisation and keen enthusiasm, caused it to be regarded as junior in name only comparatively early in its career. We believe that most members of the old Junior Car Club will be well pleased with the important new name of British Automobile Racing Club, even though some of them will hope that the emphasis will not be entirely on racing to the detriment of traditional social, rally, evening-trial and day-trial activities.
The Monte Carlo Rally.
This year’s Monte Carlo Rally attracted a record entry of 225 cars. It will be a severe test of car efficiency, driving skill and navigation and national prestige will be made or marred as the results come through. British colours will be carried by Vauxhall, Austin, Jowett “Javelin,” Lagonda, Jaguar, Hillman, Riley, Allard, Standard “Vanguard,” Alvis, A.C., Ford, Triumph, Morris, Sunbeam-Talbot, Bentley, Bristol, Healey and Rover cars. The date of the finish of this great winter competition makes it impossible for us to give results this month. A report will be published next month, and meanwhile let us hope that British cars will continue to uphold the great reputation already established by our products in post-war events.
Photo Caption: More Watkin’s Glen. — The Watkin’s Glen race in Central New York State, organized last year by the Sports Car Club of America, was America’s first post-war road race. Here the ultimate winner, Griswold’s “2.9” supercharged Alfa-Romeo saloon, is baulked, or so it appears, by Weaver’s 3-litre V8 Maserati, which retired with faulty brakes.
Ulster A.C. Boxing Day Trial
The traditional Boxing Day “Experts’ Trial” was held in very inclement weather conditions and attracted thirty competitors on mounts ranging from Robb’s half-bodied Mercury Special to Todd’s diesel-engined Vauxhall saloon. The stiff course included Porg Hill, Carnamrock and — for the first time — a timed climb of Gleno. Porg and Carnamrock were in good condition after a wet twenty-four hours, and Mrs. Dowling (vintage Buick) and Dr. Jones (Singer) succeeded in blocking the former for nearly an hour, causing much chest-slapping and foot-stamping by wet officials on the other hills. The hill at Gleno is one of those old country roads that have been by-passed owing to the gradient and was nicely carpeted with wet grass. It didn’t stop anyone, but proved an excellent venue for a climb against the watch. Clapham’s Brooklands Riley — nostalgically beautiful — did not, unfortunately, possess the right assortment of gears for muddy hills and had to resort to man-power.
1st: C. B. Porter (H.R.G.), lost 96.2 marks.
2nd: J. McMichael (H.R.G.), lost 96.6 marks.
Best Saloong: W. T. Todd (diesel Vauxhall).