CAREERS FOR OUR BOYS
(NUMBER 2) OR HOW TO BECOME A TRIALS DRIVER
By NEVIL LLOYD
(Illustrations by George Lane)
fe • • . which he mistook for a man he’d met on several trials.”
In response to an overwhelming number of requests, both of them, curiously enough, bearing a Wimbledon post mark, I am this month casting a few cultured pearls of wisdom before those fathers whose sons have expressed a desire to become trials drivers.
Whenever I stop to think, which is very rarely, as I am an extraordinarily busy man, I always think that the urge to compete in reliability trials is one of those major mysteries of life to be .classified with such problems as to why a motor club never refers to itself as anything else but ” an energetic body.” And why there is never anything in those little tin boxes marked ” Please take one.”
The first thing to be realised by my customers is that reliability trials are very unpopular in this country whose inhabitants are only happy when engaged in (a) playing cricket, (b) killing animals or (c) minding other people’s business. Thus, naturally, such a restricted sport as trials driving instantly marks your son as being of ” a lesser breed without the law,” as Kipling has it, at least I hope has, because I haven’t got it, but perhaps it’s been mislaid somewhere.
In fact, one school of thought after prolonged investigation went so far as to say that trials drivers were not human beings at all. This theory was, however, disproved by a professor of Eurhythmics at Durham University who actually captured a specimen and taught it, after years of training, to hang up its leather coat on a peg specially constructed for the purpose. Unfortunately the expense entailed in the experiment prevented the professor from continuing his researches.
The regrettable publicity given to the matter and the rather doubtful conclusions arrived at has had a lasting effect on the general public who still believe that a trials driver is a relic from the early ages who will, on the slightest provocation, go bump in the night. Except in Croydon where they don’t believe in fairy stories. This brings us by a series of easy stages to the definition of a reliability
trial. There are, of course, various types. There is the long distance trial, the sporting day trial, the half-day trial, and the trial by jury.
In the long distance trial you swear at your passenger. In the day’s trial you swear at your passenger. And in the half-day trial you also swear at your passenger, but not for so long a time as it’s a shorter trial. Thus the definition of a trial may be summed up as being the longest, coldest and most infuriating way of getting from point A to point 13.
One good thing about becoming a trials driver is that one is never at a loss for a topic of conversation. There is always an argument. Whether or not competition tyres should be banned? Should superchargers be eligible? What about solid axles? These questions can be discussed by trials drivers until their leather coats come home. Which reminds me of a very sad case in which a trials driver friend of mine was concerned. He was returning home fi ()in a motor club dinner very late one night when he met a donkey, which he mistook for a man he had met on several trials. Anyway he fell into conversation ‘with the donkey and started discussing the banning of solid axles. So heated did he become on the subject that quite inadvertently, he talked the hind legs off this donkey. The poor animal, of course, collapsed, and the owner who came to
II.• . this sort of thing does not do trials any good.”
find out what all the noise was about, was absolutely furious. Incidentally, the donkey was none too pleased either. The result was that my friend was prosecuted by the R.S.P.C.A. and sent to gaol for three months for talking about solid axles without due care and attention: And the funny thing was that the donkey was exactly like the man my friend had met, which just shows how very careful your son must be on reliability trials.
The preparation of the car for trials work is most important. I will assume that you have a suitable machine, i.e., one with a bottom-gear ratio so low that it could crawl under a competition tyre, wearing a crash helmet.
If it is a trial in which superchargers and other bones of contention are eligible, you are advised to use them. If not, don’t. This should be obvious to the meanest intelligence.
A further aid to success is the fixing a two dozen or so assorted badges on the front of your car. Don’t bother to join the clubs though, that is a most expensive procedure. If you can manufacture a few of your own design, do so. The more badges, the better the driver, besides giving small boys the pleasure of counting them.
Another thing which creates a good impression is to paint the Union jack on the bonnet of the car. This gives people to think your son is a patriotic Britisher, which he obviously is not. If he was he’d be riding to hounds, and not driving with them.
One last word. In the interests of crime prevention the wearing of white helmets is not recommended. Otherwise the driver’s apparel is left to his own lack of discretion. One man I know insisted on driving in a trial clad only in a pair of pants. This would have been all right, but owing to some oversight he forgot the pants. Naturally that sort of thing does not do reliability trials any good.