mst month we published an account of the :NI .M.E.C. meeting which was held in Birmingham, and at which
Raymond Mays took the chair. Mr. Mays considers that this report did not give the true state of affairs and that it conve?,’s an entirely false im presion ; indeed, he refers to it as
The Midlands Disturbance
a ” reporter’s biased personal opinion,” and considers it ” unwholesome when all concerned are trying to pull together and do their best.” In point of fact, the person who represented MOTOR SPowr at the meeting could hardly have been more unbiased, being a young enthusiast with no personal, political or manufacturing influences to affect his outlook. Nor could the Editor be keener on seeing motoring Sport flourish after the war—his whole outlook and being is biased that way. What we do fear is mistaken direction of the Sport into unfortunate channels, at a time When the future is distinctly uncertain. We respectfully suggest to Raymond Mays and Wing-Cmdr. Lester that their ambitious proposals and idealistic plans be placed before experienced organisers, such as F. G. Craner, Harry Edwards, H. J. Morgan, Percy Bradley, “.Jackie ” Masters, Eric Giles, Leslie Wilson and Cecil Chalon, amongst others, and not before a comparatively new body composed of non-racing personnel, inexperienced organisers and persons unknown to the A.I.A.C.R. and to the R.AC. Competitions Committee as they existed in 1939. If these persons will add their support to the plans proposed—albeit plans still rather vague in expression, perhaps vaguer as to execution—then the R.A.C. would be obliged to take notice or to give over. The very last thing we wish to see is the fighting of an issue—the II .A.C. ver.tus the rest. But the R.A.C. Competitions Committee is said to need guidance, and were we that august body we should prefer to be gently led, or even forcibly propelled, by experienced authorities, rather than by a group of persons of whom, except for a few individuals, we had never heard. So, as the next step, we suggest that Raymond Mays approach these persons and obtain their views, which we hope we shall be able to publish. We know that both Mays and Lester have only the good of the Sport at heart, and they must be
given credit for having already directed the though ts of the M.M.E.C. out of rather unfortunate swordcrossing channels on to a more useful track. TO show that we wish lair play to all we concede to a rather dictatorial request made by Raymond Mays in a letter dated December 12th, 1944, and despite the calls on our already very cramped space, and at the risk of some repetition. publish in full both his views, as attached to the let ter in question, and the rather political speech Wing-Cmdr. Lester made at the Birmingham meeting. Graham Dix’s comments on our report we cannot add, as these have not been received as we go to press. Raymond Mays’s views. -” As chairman at the meeting in Birmingham on October 9t Ii, and in fairness to the
(and the other organisations present), I should like to give a clear and accurate picture of the wlaile idea leading up to such a meeting, and the results as I see them. ” Firstly, the statement:, in the Press alluding to these enthu siasts’ clubs as merely ‘ war-time bodies ‘ are very misleading and hardly fair. A great nullifier of their menwers are also members of pre-war clubs that have been suspended since the War, and On this score alone they tire perfectly ent it lcd to express their views on the future of niotorker Sport in this country. I .() so far as to say that the very greatly depend upon I lie lentil/9.s of associated dills to help keep the R.A.U.’s activities suceessfully. Many of the members of these enthu siasts’ clubs are successful professional and business meil all
tyys, Witil definite aild. ConSi riiI ivy ideas, and not merely a handful of hot-headed people wlio wish to attempt to overthrow the li.A.C. Most of these enthusiasts’ clubs have many niellihers serviia in the Forces, and some of the smaller dubs, formed in war-time, have purely Service nwmbership. This point I feel is worthy of mention because there seems to be an idea that nothing should be done until all the Service men come home. Has it been considered that it will be many years before all such men are released from service ? Demobilisation after this present conflict will not happen in five minutes. Surely the least those who are overseas do expect from those fortunate enough to be at home is that they should do what they can to start the ball rolling. Although these may not be the views of a section of the motoring public in this country at the present time, I can assure you it is the 100 per cent. opinion of the countless enquiries I have had, :ind am daily receiving. from those NVili have taken up arms and are doing the lighting in this war. ” The people who pay for motoring Sport, in all its forms, in
this country are the people who buy and prepare their own cars, and the people who pay to run them, therefore they have every right to express their views. [To how many of those present at Birmingham does this apply ? And do,s not WingOmit’. ,ester propose-to make the ” gate ” pay for everything ? ict ii views. ED.1 As I have stated on previous occasions, I am const ant ly receiving letters from Service men in all parts of 0111.’ far-flung Empire, asking : What is keing done about the future of motoring Sport in England ? ‘ For this reason, and because I felt that it. would be an excellent idea for the enthusiasts vim are still in this country, to get together and eXpretiti their views, I agreed to sign a circular letter and take the chair at I lie meeting called. It was obvious to me when I agreed to do this that many conflicting points of view would come to light, and surely it is only by enabling such an expression of views to take place I hat anythingnew or constructive Call be formed. Here I should like to say t hat as regards the miming and organising of events the It.A.C. is obviously the right body to organise the Sport nationally, and this view, I feel sure, is shared by all who have competed. However, this does not mean that a great number of people would not like to see this country play a far bigger part in all forms of motoring Sport, and here is where the II as the rightful body, should welcome any constructive suggestions to meet these ends. What have all
our lads Leen lighting for these last live years Surely for a free expression of their views ? ” sole aim awl objeet in joining forces with the
was to further the interests of the ? oungcr generation in motoring. Sport and to spread the ‘ gospel of this Sisal from the impecunious amateur’s mechanic il efforts, right up to the ultimate that brains and science eat achieve. “II my action in attempting to foster this spirit is to be
criticised. what other perion or organisation has this valise as the main basis of appeal ? The handling and making of the vehicles can (ally produce a degree of skill and perfect ion I hrOughout the scale, and it is desirable from every point of view to encourage in this sphere the sporting spirit of Britain at home and her prestige abroad in this mechanised age.” Wing-Cmdr. Lester’s speech read as follows Although I am a keen follower, and most interested in motor racing, that is not the real reason why I am so anxious that motor racing should play its true part in our future national life. Ilavim, been a regular officer in the Service a very considerable time, right. from the last war till this one, and fortunate eisaigh to travel in and through a great deal of our ‘ far-flung Empire ‘ and other lands, I have come face to face with the apathetic position of the past in so many ways directly affecting our prestige. As long
ago as 1934, putting two tint( two together, it was quite obvious to me that Germany was starting to re-arm her people NVitll great self-confidence by earrying out competition of all sorts and giving it great publicity. Athletics of every kind came into tbe picture, On the surface for show purposes to the world, internally to get the nation lit and tough for the main programme war. What sort of a war was this to be ? A how-and-arrow affair ? VH a rally-mechanised one in every sense.
” I low (lid Germany go alout the training for her mechanisation ? As is well known, motor racing, car and motor-eycle trials or every kind, and the researeh and development Nsilich goes with hoth or these. Were 1111S1led to the. lull. To the outside world this was intended to show that Germany %vas supreme, and that in itself is wonderful propaganda, Lot Lewnth all this was the training for war. I may add that as regards the propaganda Villtle or these efforts the 1 tun did not fail to impress the world in his favour. In my travels I stiw this first hand quite unmistakably, and affectingtrade very markedly in the I fun’s favour. ‘Those of us Nvlio fought in the last war were led to believe that it would he t he 1st NV 11. and that t he nation’s sacrifice was not to be in vain. If such serious promises haVe been made to the people by its appointed Government and not kept in the past, what proof have ?ve that. history will not r(Teat itself”? ” In actual fact we had a 20 years’ armistice in which time we blindly allowed the Germans to create the most staggering military machine in history, which again at great sacri ae has taken practically the whole world to get under control and this after live years’ AVar W1iC11 is not yet ended. There has been, and is, I fear, a serious tendency in Ifritain to publicly helittle the enemy’s technical ability, ingenuity, and the usefulness of his attainments, through the medium of the Press,
films, told the I. This is done frequently, when the enemy is first in the field in practical form with a useful new war device. Such arguments as ‘ he is wasting capacity of his overburdened war industry, which could he better used for otlwr purposes ‘ are often cited. The public is thus treated as uneducated and witliout the ability to reason. This Itelit Heinen!, having limn put over to the country anoPor nation the official sponsor is then allowed to presume that the public memory is ever so) short for almost overnight the pronouncement is made that our side is now going to use, or is using, the saute device, and that. we were the first to invent it ! The real reason that we are once again unprepared and not up to date in this or that Jim’ or research and development., and any inquir?,, as to why, is left in the background by this misrepresentation of’ facts and W(‘ are, as a result., only fooling ourselves. ” The flying-homb is a classic example. ‘Flue truth may hurt, mu I think I am voicing the majority of British opinion that we Call take it, and we will get nowhere till we get it as soon as possible, and have the chance, therefore, to profit by our past errors and complacency. rhen you have a laisiness competitor who is heating you, if’ you wish to stay in business you must. (a) at least run your business as elliviently as his, copying his
methods if and Where necessary, and benefiting by his sm.( cssf’ill experience, and (b) go one better if possible. This in a nutshell is the position we are now in as I See it. ” Germany showed us what could la. (haw by encouraging motoring Sport and racing in all forms, created trade and prepared for war. AVe now, as her vompetitor, must take a leaf out. of her hook copy all that was best in her mud hauls, and go One bet.ler -and so prepare ourselves, and remain prepared, that we will be ready should war ever threaten again and by so doing help to prevent war. whilst at the same lime benefiting our trade in the litany fields allied to our mechanical industries. In view or this it is deplorable that Sllell all anti British policy is allowed to be exploited through the powerful means or the U. B.(‘, vhen 811 ex-‘no-fighter-for-Britain pacifist. remembered for his ‘ Oxford Movement ‘ peace-time otterings, should be allowed to advocate a limitingmotoring movement directly contrary to our national interests and security. The hill-hearted support by people and Government. or motoring Sport and racing is in the highest national interest, and is as British as the ” I submit that this and nothing else is the is,;ue at stake :
” Is the nation to risk sacrificing itself for the want of the lead it desperately needs now ? -I laving outlined these perhaps not very tailatable facts, one asks oneself the question : Is there anythino, that the British
public, Call (10 now and in the immediate future which rill act as part of an insurance policy torainst any recurrenve Of this Nvorld tragedy after :mother period of years of armistice ? In my humble opinion, motor racing, in all forms and all that goes with it, is one of the necessary constructive means of action to meet these ends. If this state of affairs is accepted as a l’aet, then the time has come for a full-blooded all-out drive by a thoroughly active organisation, fit. and capable of putting
Britain ” 011 tOp all forms of’ automotive competition and making and keeping motoring Sport the first sport in the e0111111’y. There is 110 tittle to WaSte wasted time can never he regained ecoinomieally.
” This active organisation Will enable the enthusiast to encourage andlor take part in the Sport whilst realising that patriotically the safety or the nation depends on the quality and quantity of it.s mechanisation allied to the standard of the nation’s human knowledge, ability and skill to use it. The higher this humau standard, and the greater the numhers involved, the less tin. likelihood or another Ivar catching us unprepared. ‘I he greater the (list (II ohtaining and maintaining for all time this necessary standard, if backed entirely by Government sultsidy, tlw higher, in proportion, the post-war income tax must he.
” NVhat, then, are the possibilities of earrying out this national preparedness scheme, ‘it ii or without any Government subsidy at any stage ? Is there any organisation. in existence capahle, killing and keen to carry this out. now ? it. is suggested that the starting of it new organisation where any other as yet unharnessed exists, is an unnecessary waste of effort if that unharnessed organisation void(‘ be induced to provide the iinswer. If not., in view ()I’ this vital issue at stake, it is obvious that a new active organisation becomes necessary immediately. ” The R.A.C. is the prorer organisation to do this via its Com petition (‘ommittee, but the in this respect is not at present representative or this cause because : ” (a) The average member or affiliated member of the 11.A.(‘
. joins that hotly for road service and facilities in touring matters, ete. (b) The 11.A.C.i.olicy does not ask its memhers or affiliated members to specifically support or encourage motoring Sport. and competition in any form, and does not attempt. to stress
the necessity of this in the national interest, which is the vital point at issue. ((I) There is no evidenee, officially, to show Or suggest that. the 11.A.C. contemplates changing its policy in this respect at this date, as its mernhers have haul no notification or any proposed change of policy. ” It is not unreasonable to suppose that were the ILA.(‘. to take up the cause and to tisk its members, nuoula.ring thousands,
whether they wished the chili to fully support a selwme to meet these ends, a high pereentage would lite in favour. IS it DOI WOrtll :l try ?
” The It.A.C. could likewise. in the national interest, seek the co-operatien of’ the other motoring organisations.
” It, is desirable that the enthusiast club movement to encourage motoring Sport. should spread its wings over Britain and eventually the whole Empire. Existing clubs should keep their identity but be affiliated to the movement ‘ and Nvhole-heartedly support. it. Each eountry included would have its own headquarters and decentralised system, and work in conformity with the home headquarters. ” To get the ball rolling and keep it rolling, funds are, as
usual, necessary. But if’ any organisation is big enough take the funds of’ any big insurance company, for example -the small annual subscriptions of many amount to a big total figure.
” As I see it, to get this motoring Sport and racing era started, and on its feet, a regular annual income in the nature of six figures of pounds will he necessary and can be readily achieved by the l»Ca/lS eMisaged. The enthusiast club member by subseribing does not pay for the puhlic person who is not a member of the organisation, because that public person pays by virtue of a small tax on every motor-race ticket he or she buys. which he or slw does at roll entrance privy : 5s. suggested. The enthusiast club member, on the other hand, vill get. admission at a suggested 25 per cent, reduetion at all similar events. The subscription figure I have in mind, tentatively, is 5s. per year per member, and the ticket levy, 3d. per ticket. On this basis 100,000 members produce t.:25.000 per annum, or 100,000 members £100,000
per 11111111111 8,000,000 tOtal spt..etators at events at 3d. per head provide another t..100.0()0 per annum. This gives a slight, idea or the possibilities of’ a sizeable fund being annually available by the small subscription scheme. ” I liave briefly enumerated this point 011t of a complete scheme, which to me and others seems workable, by which motoring Sport can flourish. This seheme hwhales tlw provision
Of necessary venues. As we know motor racing in England in the past, this may sound ambitious, but with the will, the keenness and the determination it is worth a try. Nothing attempted, nothing done. A well-staged entertainment, for instance, a good play at a theatre, relies on the whole means adopted by that theatre to put it over to the audience—in fact, a spectacle worth seeing from every angle is staged, and it succeeds in attracting and pleasing its audiences because of its utter quality. “Motoring Sport and racing also needs properly staging to make it worth seeing and so pleasing its spectators. To me it seems that a vicious not-so-magic circle is thus created, as follows :(I) The staging creates a spectacle which attracts the crowd ; (2) the crowd proluces a large ‘ gate’ ; (3) the large gate ‘ pro duces £ s. d. ; (4) the s. d. pays for all expenses in connection with creating the cars, wages, research and development and all overhead expenses created by the staging ; (5) this provides publicity, trade, entertainment and national security.” [Has this ever been so in the past ?—ED.1
” In staging events the full use of the youth of the country could and should be made use of. Voluntary movements such as the Boy Scouts might well co-operate with mutual and national advantage. The A.T.C., for instance, and other national constructive organisations may—and, I suggest, could —with advantage remain with us after this war. They could co-operate also. The technical knowledge and interest which would be bound to be infused into all such people could only do good and immeasurably help the enie.e.”