M otor-Cycle Speedmen. C. W. G. LACEY.
By A. A. R.
1.T takes many lights to stage a play and the lesser are by no means the least important ; in the same way Brooklands would be very bare without those men who form the” field “and create the background against which the stars scintillate.
In time, however, the background splits up to reveal another background and the stars are then the men who in the first instance were comparatively unknown.
C. W. G. Lacey has passed through this stage, but now as the official nominee of Le Vack, in the 350 class, he is well on his way to fame and a short enquiry into hisrcareer will not be out of place. At the early age of twelve we find Charles Lacey keenly interested in “stinks,” which interest became fully developed in following years by the acquisition of various chemicals which eventually formed the basis of a small laboratory ; in 1916, however, the ” lab ” proved too small to provide real scope for his activities and Lacey commenced his motor-cycle career with the purchase of an old single geared N.S.U. with coil ignition. The bottom of the ladder is the best place to start whether it be in stockbroking or motor-cycle racing,
and with this old machine Lacey undoubtedly gained that valuable experience which makes all the difference between the rider who nurses his mount and the one who treats it purely as a piece of machinery and as such a means to an end only. 1921 saw the start of competition work, and by careful tuning and attention to the most minute details Lacey was able to obtain 71 m.p.h. over the half mile out of an old belt-driven Rudge. This was somewhat of an achievement for an amateur and he would have doubtless carried off a few trophies with this machine if only he could have obtained a belt to stand up to the work for any period. After playing with the idea of fixing chain drive on the Rudge, he eventually decided against it, and selling the Rudge, he launched out and purchased a Cotton, the frame of which appealed to him greatly. After spending many weeks in careful tuning he at last ventured forth into open competition work and his enthusiasm was rewarded before many weeks had passed by his success at the meeting at Kop in 1923,
where he made fastest time in the 350 class. From that date he has gradually been getting those extra miles out of his machine ; since he first bought it the modifications have been legion, frame and engine being continually altered, perfect weight distribution and maximum speed being the goals to be obtained.
Lacey has unique opportunities for such work, as he is employed on the building and tuning of certain special cars, having risen to this position after an apprenticeship as tool maker to a big general engineering firm.
From the above remarks it will be seen that Lacey is not yet a professional rider ; at the same time he naturally does not class himself as an amateur in the strict (and only) sense of the word, as he has found it necessary to receive support from various firms. This motor-cycle racing is a very expensive game and Lacey is to be congratulated for tackling it off his own bat ; his determination has been rewarded by a regular list of successes, amongst which his record for Alms ranks first in our opinion. For nearly three years he has held the time of 24 seconds for a quarter-mile course up Alms ; this was only just beaten this year by Guyler on a big Indian; his time being 24. When the engines capacities are taken into account Lacey’s achievement is by far the more meritorious ; charging the Cannons at 48 m.p.h. is no mean feat.
Kop Hill was again the scene of his victory in 1924, where he retained the open 350 c.c. record for the ascent at the Essex Club’s meeting. In 1925, he was beaten by Handley by I sec. only. On July roth, 1924, he obtained a second place in the 350 c.c. race of the South-Eastern Centre, and not content with this he worked from the following Monday till Wednesday morning in anticipation of the Essex Club’s mid-week Brooklands event. Here, at last, he was supreme, beating Spring’s Norton in the 3-lap Junior Handicap up to 500 c.c. In the following race, the 3-lap Senior Handicap up to r,000 c.c. he ran second to Allchin on his 996 Zenith, only being beaten by twenty yards.
Last year he performed with great consistence at the track, eventually coming in third at the championship meeting. Discussing that race with him, we learnt that while he was lapping at over 87 m.p.h. it came on to rain slightly, and striking the smooth patch at the end of the railway the machine went completely across the track. This apparently is a not unusual occurrence,
but, in this case, says Lacey, the bike took longer to straighten out than usual, a rather unnerving experience, but all in a day’s work for the track expert. It may interest our readers to know that Lacey believes in letting a wobble work itself out ; in no case does he
ever try to force a machine’s head back into a straight course ; up till now, his method has not failed on his particular machine ; perhaps this is why he has never been off on the track, but careful driving counts for a lot, and tells heavily in the long run. Men like Segrave and Handley would not now be in their present position if they had driven recklessly in the past.
Curiously enough, Lacey’s worst crash occurred on the road when he was returning from Brooklands at a relatively quiet pace. A big Daimler completely wrecked him for seven weeks by touching the end of his right handlebar in an attempt to squeeze by. Apart from this, and a crash on Kop while practising, Lacey has been singularly fortunate in avoiding those little tumbles on the concrete. Although occupied at the present with his 344 Cotton J.A.P., we may soon expect to see Lacey enter the arena professionally, he rather aspires to big twin work, but is dubious of his ability to hold them, as he Is by no means heavy, at the same time he is not as small as some of the present day big twin exponents. We do think that we shall see Lacey across a r,000 c.c. machine next season, however, as he aims, rather wisely, at coming out at the top of the 350 c.c. class first and, e perhaps, even taking up 500 c.c. work in conjunction with the smaller machines. With his light weight and unmistakable crouch he is absolutely built for the smaller
; we are of the opinion that he would make admirable T.T. rider, his style being considerably than a great many we saw in the island last year.