A branch of the Sport which is gaining increasing popularity.
Ever since the day that speed events on public roads were banned, there has been a lack of opportunities for the genuine speed merchant. There have been plenty of sporting events of the” freak ” variety such as Post Hill, and the Lancashire “Grand National,” but these are in a separate category.
Brooklands is available only to comparatively few who either spend their whole time there on experimental work, or live near enough to make it worth while joining as private owners.
These facts explain why in the last few years sand racing has come to the fore and now holds a position of popularity almost unequalled in any other branch of the sport, and this is largely due to the enthusiasm of clubs like the Southport M.C. whose meetings are some of the brightest features of the racing season.
Sand has many advantages as a medium for speed work, not the least being the remarkable amount of space available which requires little or no work to keep it in order, and another being the fact that really high speeds are possible.
There is no getting away from the fact that this gives it a real standing among motoring events, and helps to attract entries and spectators. When someone wants to know at what speed a certain event was won, it is trying for an enthusiastic supporter of a club to have to explain that such a speed although it sounds low was really very good “under the circumstances.” With sand racing no such thing is necessary and the bald statement that in many sprint events speeds of over 100 m.p.h. are attained on cars and motorcycles is sufficient to assure the most sceptical that this is real racing. Also those whose tastes lie in the direction of long distance work have ample scope in the long races which are run at these meetings, and have an opportunity of practising road conditions coupled with high speed.
It is well known, that although Brooklands stars have been known to do great things in the I.O.M., such as F. G. Hicks, it is rather exceptional and the majority find that track racing is of little help as a training for road racing.
Furthermore those who have done well in the various miniature T.T.’s held in private grounds in various parts of the country do not always shine in the greatest road race of all. This, I am inclined to think, is because they have not got used to the really high speeds necessary, and although they are often very neat on the slow corners, they cannot cope with the all out corners which comprise such a large part of the I.O.M. course. It is on the fast bends that the race is won, and on which the stars show up to such advantage. Long distance sand races produce many of the conditions of a fast road race in that braking from really high speeds is such an important point, and some of the fast continental road races, with their long straights and few corners, are not so very unlike them.
Southport has provided P. Hunt among others to show that this is useful training, while the Amateur T.T. entries are very largely supplied from this part of the world. Many other districts have followed suit and Saltburn and Skegness provide events in the season which give plenty of opportunity for tuners to show what they can do, and all who have been down to Pendine for the Welsh T.T., will agree that this is one of the cheeriest and most informal meetings of the year, and one which they will not miss if they can help it. In view of these remarks it might be imagined that the beach is the world’s finest racing track, and it will therefore be as well to consider its disadvantages and consider what steps can be taken to minimise them. The first and most obvious complaint, especially from the private owner, is that the wear and tear on the machine is apt to be heavy, owing to the sand not staying on the beach but getting into vital portions of the mechanism.
On taking down an engine after a sand meeting I have found sand in the crankcase to quite an appreciable extent, which does not help to prolong the life of the bearings or cylinders.
In the case of a car the engine is fairly well protected, but a motorcycle needs considerable attention if it is to avoid damage to the working parts.
However here a page can be taken from the book of the dirt track rider, and if wire gauze is employed in a sensible manner it is possible without sacrificing neatness to cover the valve gear, tappets, etc., so as to avoid trouble from this source.
A further source of much trouble is the water flung up by the wheels, and also by other machines, and as sea water is far more harmful that fresh, special care must be taken with the magneto . Oiled silk is one of the best mediums for protecting this component, and this again can be neatly applied. An important point to notice is the opening from the magneto chain case in many machines, and though many riders, with plasticine and other engineering commodities, protect the contact breaker end of the magneto, they are liable to omit the very vulnerable point mentioned above. On a motorcycle the chains always have rather a rough time, and unless they are totally enclosed there is little that can be done for them in actual running except to lubricate them. A steady feed of oil is beater than grease as it tends to wash any grit off the chains instead of collecting it. If the chains are removed and washed thoroughly between each meeting and the sprockets carefully cleaned, the wear is not excessive. If gauze is used on the air intake it is necessary to make up a gauze box to provide a good area, or there will be a danger of restricting the air flow and consequently the speed. Wheel bearings are now greatly improved and if looked after in a normal manner will not wear unduly, but of course if they once get dry of grease the spray will certainly corrode them very soon.
In short it is a form of racing which can be indulged in by the private owner with the minimum of expense, in view of the excellent sport provided ; and every season sees an increase in the number of competitors on two, three, or four wheels, at every beach meeting.