On December 10th the R.A.C. Competitions Committee (hereinafter called the C.C.) held its 1947 meeting of the Clubs, which was well attended and in many ways resembled the previous year’s meeting. [Our comments in the following report appear within square brackets.] The Chairman of the R.A.C. opened the meeting and Major Dixon-Spain gave an account of all the C.C. had done for the Sport last season. Lord Howe had undertaken. much work relating to public safety at speed events, and Captain Mathieson had attended a meeting relating to model-car matters. Thirty-five speed courses had been inspected and 980 International Competition Licences were issued, 14 new time-keepers were appointed and 12 scrutineers. One hundred and fifty seven Permits were issued, of which 41 were for speed events to which the R.A.C. had sent Stewards. A new Committee had been formed to look into the issue of Press Passes. [This is the first we had heard of this, but then we had had to invite ourselves to the meeting.] The Meeting was then thrown open to Club representatives, Lord Howe ably taking the Chair.
Mr. Flather (Sheffield & Hallamnshire C.C.) raised the matter of Permit fees, and Mr. Mays (Leicestershire C.C.) said small clubs could ill afford present fees, suggesting a sliding scale based on entries. Mr. Neill (Ulster S.C.) said that Competition Licence fees might also be cut out. Mr. Woodhouse (S.U.N.B.A.C.), on the contrary, said we had lived on R.A.C. charity for twenty years and fees should remain, but Mr. Bryden (Cemian C.C.) agreed with Mr. Mays, as representing a small club, and wanted lower fees. Mr. Flather emphasised that Closed Trials are mainly for local boys, and if entry fees are kept to a modest level the £1 1s. Permit fee plus the present cost of awards, becomes excessive. He agreed with the £2 2s. fee for Invitation Permits. Mr. Dewey (Southsea M.C.) felt the R.A.C. did very little tor the money. Mr. Flather then said the R.A.C. might do well to publicise the Clubs on its good works. [Wasn’t this point made a year ago?] Mr. Cook (Grimsby M.C.) wanted one permit for a whole season. Mr. Clarkson (Falkirk & D.M.C) suggested members affiliation fees, like the A.C.U. scheme, but Mr. Flather said that his Club, with 170 – 180 motorcycle members, was opposed to this, as these members would have to pay 1s. 6d. to the R.A.C., as he now pays 1s. 6d. to the A.C.U.
Mr. Bowler (Vintage S.C.C.) supported the present fees, as the R.A.C. got trials organisers out of a nasty jam in 1937 – 38, when legislation was threatened, and its business expenditure had to be met. [He represented a large club, of course, whose secretary earns £500 a year,] Lord Howe called on Maurice Toulmin of the C.C. to reply, and he explained that, bluntly, Major Dixon-Spain’s “dibs” have to be found, and the Permit fees contribute to this end. Major Dixon-Spain remarked that out of 80 clubs, only 7 had disagreed to the fees. Speed trials usually pay the organisers a handsome profit. anyway. He had every sympathy with the small clubs. Lord Howe inspects all big speed venues and this has resulted in a 25 per cent. reduction in insurance premiums to clubs. These expenses have to be met. Mr. Rather wanted a vote on the issue but Lord Howe felt the present scheme should run for a full year – until May – before the matter is reviewed.
Mr. Fry (Southsea M.C.) inquired if the C.C. would tell him when a club’s fixtures should be presented to the R.A.C., as he had had no replies to requests for a dead-line date. Major Dixon-Spain was at “a complete loss” to know why Mr. Fry had not been notified, as three fixture lists were issued at intervals last season.
Mr. Woodhouse made a very well received suggestion that all British clubs should issue their 1948 fixtures just as if petrol were available. Mr. Fry heartily agreed and said Southsea’s list was ready. The meeting obviously agreed.
Mr. Callender (Scottish S.C.C.) felt that two months’ notice Of application for a Permit was too long. In Scotland road conditions changed frequently, so could the R.S.A.C. hold the Permits for Scottish Clubs and scan regulations nearer to the date? Mr. Dewey said this would not allow the R.A.C.. to obviate clashing fixtures, but was reminded that it was suggested for Scotland only. Mr. Stevenson, for the R.S.A.C., said he could not agree to special conditions.
Mr. Flather then asked what was the R.A.C. doing to get “basic” petrol restored? Captain Phillips thereupon put the case for the R.A.C., pointing out that they must not make the matter a political issue, and the Chairman of the R.A.C. said a special representative would attend by-election campaigns to put the motorists’ case properly. [Why do competition motorists haggle for a ” basic restoration, when they know perfectly well that if this were restored it would still be necessary to break the law and use supplementary allowances if a full season’s programme be undertaken ? Let them cease to act as good little boys hurt as they cannot have a few gallons a month to use as they wish and let them fight, and fight hard, for unrationedpetrol.] Lord Howe remarked that the by-elections give scope for sounding candidates on their policy in this respect.
Mr. Clarkson enquired, were non R.A.C. approved tyres permitted on the un-driven wheels of trials cars, in view of the tyre shortage? The R.A.C. approved list was of tyres you must not use; wouldn’t a list of permitted tyres be more useful? Major Dixon-Spain produced two lists sent to Club secretaries, one of permitted tyres, one of banned tyres. Mr. Clarkson then pointed out that these two R.A.C. lists do not cover all available tyres, especially retreads. [This was not answered.] Mr. Onslow-Bartlett (West Hants & Dorset C.C.) wanted to know if the F.I.A. sports-car regulations calling for the same size tyres front and back could be applied to trials cars, as not everyone can obtain ultra-large back boots. [As Mr. Bartlett uses outsize rear tyres himself, this was a big-hearted point to raise.] He further said, please could retreaded tyres be controlled, as not everyone could take their retreads where the knobs were biggest? Colonel Barnes, for the C.C., said that in the R.A.C. “model regulations,” available to clubs, they had made an attempt to cover new treads.
Mr. Callender asked for control of bodywork used in trials, as doorless monstrosities might inflame public opinion. Mr. Woodhouse said his Club had already taken steps to remove “spartan bodies.” He also asked if the R.A.C. had considered a deputation to the Ministry of Fuel and Power to appeal for petrol for classic events. Lord Howe, in reply, said there is no hope of petrol; it was not granted for the Monte Carlo Rally either by us or by the French Government. He agreed about the possible harm done by odd-looking ears, but said the Motor Vehicles Use and Construction Act should be complied with in any case; insurance cover might be affected if a vehicle were illegal. Club scrutineers should consider this matter.
Mr. Bartlett then rose to discuss the abuse of bodies [!] saying that a doorless car had been recognised officially last season as a sports-car. Would someone define a sports-car? Lord Howe said the F.I.A. finds this one a sore subject; personally, he again backed the R.A.C. Tourist Trophy stipulations. The meeting then drifted to petrol possibilities for racing, but. Mr. Bolster (Maidstone & Mid Kent M.C.) closed the pre-tea trials session by emphasising that to attempt to state the motorists’ case at by-elections was not to be recommended. A professional speaker makes one look a complete fool and it is best to keep right out of such things! [But we don’t suppose you will really give in, Mr. Bolster !]
After the tea interval Raymond Mays was presented with the Hill-Climb Championship Trophy and Replica and a cheque, and then Club delegates discussed racing and speed events
Mr. Neill asked if the Minister Of Fuel and Power could be given an idea of the quantity of alcohol fuel which would be needed to run International events, so that he might decide if an allocation would be possible. Lord Howe read a message received that day from the Ministry, which said that at present alcohol fuel was unrationed; but some petrol would be needed by the organisers, said Lord Howe. Mr. Sykes (Brighton & Hove M.C.) said his Club had already applied to the M. of F. and P. and Mr. Morrish (Bristol M.C. & L.C.C.) said that if petrol were allowed for taking motorcycles to meeting’s the same should apply for cars. Mr. Benett (Jersey & D.M.C & L.C.C.) said the local government will not act in respect of the 1948 Jersey race until racing fuel is guaranteed. Mr. Scannell (B.R.D.C.) said that petrol was rationed in the I.O.M. when the B.R.D.C. race was run, but fuel was allocated through the British Government. Mr. Heal (Vintage S.C.C.) wanted consideration for sprint meetings: Mr. Bolster said as some people have to work, could we have week-end, not mid-week, events? Mr. Bowler then asked what are the prospects of obtaining airfields? Lord Howe gave a lengthy explanation of what the R.A.C. had done and the difficulties it had met since 1945, in trying to obtain a track. The R.A.C. had been asked to act as liaison between itself and the Clubs. They had also inspected sites for a permanent course at the Air Ministry’s invitation. Seaford was offered for £100 per race, or £10 a day for testing, but was unsuitable. A farmer threatened an injunction if Little Horwood were used for racing, as it would affect his cows’ milk. The S.M.M.T. had refused Donington, and the M.I.R.A. bad made some appeal for a test-track, but one separate from any racing venue. Land-owners scotched the scheme to use an airfield outside Donington. Many other airfields had been inspected and considered unsuitable. But the Air Ministry was getting out a new list of sites and the R.A.C. would continue its researches. It had a lever now that Government support had been promised for Raymond Mays’ British Racing Motors [The R.A.C. obviously will not approve any second-rate course. But it seems a pity so many Air Ministry offers have had to be turned down. Fencing, surfacing, location, etc,. are obvious difficulties, but over forty years ago the late Mr. H. F. Locke-King had to face just such problems as these.]
Mr. Monkhouse (North London E.C.C.) enquired how far the Government were supporting the B.R.M. and whether the Motor Industry had been approached for support of Little Horwood or other courses. Mr. Bowler thought fences could be erected to control noise. Mr. Clutton, emphasising that he had gained some experience in helping to run the Gransden Meetings, wondered if too much pessimism is evident and thought a test-case might be brought against the person threatening the Little Horwood injunction. [We are not clear why Gransden was apparently considered unsuitable by the R.A.C., although two highly-successful race meetings have been staged there by the C.U.A.C.] Mr. Bartlett sought to obtain racing on the public roads.
Raymond Mays, at Lord Howe’s invitation, explained that the support promised by Mr. Henderson-Tate, of the Ministry of Supply, was priority of vital materials – which, Lord Howe said, was probably the most valuable support you could have, apart from financial subsidy, in these times. A legal action over the Little Horwood injunction would be costly and unwise until the track was about to become an established fact. He found that discussing motor-racing with Lord Nuffield and Sir William Rootes was a “pain in the neck,” charming as these gentlemen otherwise were. He had heard of a scheme for a track at Stanmer Park, Brighton, but did not know how far it would go.
Mr. Sedgwick (Bentley D.C.) said his Club’s suggestion of a sports-car race to precede the Jersey race was backed by the Jersey Club, but opposed by the J.C.C. A Jersey delegate jumped up and explained that lack of time for closing the roads in Jersey ruled the idea out.
Lord Howe answered a query as to why Trade or Press personnel were not allowed on the C.C. by saying he didn’t know why this rule was made but it seemed to him a good one. Someone asked about the Crystal Palace track and received a reply about purchase tax on racing cars, his question having been misunderstood. Mr. Sedgwick queried if there was any objection to two clubs running on the same circuit on the same day – the Chairman of the R.A.C. remarking not in the opposite direction, he hoped! Mr. Bartlett felt that frequently members of promoting clubs had entries accepted that had been sent in after entries had been returned to those not belonging to the promoting club, which is bad for the sport, and had a tirade against cars running out of their appropriate classes in sprints. Mr. Eason-Gibson (B.R.D.C.) thought that if the Trade ban were lifted we might get more driver-members on the C.C.
Mr. Neill asked why the R.A.C. had banned blown cars over 1½ litres and unblown cars over 4½ litres at Ballyclaire, and Lord Howe took responsibility for this, as the back-leg was unsafe for larger cars. A delegate Of the Scarborough & & L.C.C. asked if a possible course near Scarborough should be proceeded with, in view of Lord Howe’s remark that any permanent course should be roughly mid-way between London and Birmingham. After all, people did go from this country to races in N. Ireland! Lord Howe said without inspection it was impossible to pre-judge such schemes.[But it seems an awful pity to us to pour luke-warm, let alone cold, water on any project of this sort. The Government must be reminded politely that there is not much object in backing a British racing motor if such things cannot be tested in this country. And every opportunity should be seized upon of getting a track somewhere in this sad and sorry little island – which would at once become less sad and sorry from the prestige that would result.]
That is about all of importance that happened at the 1947 Meeting of the Clubs, although this time Maurice Toulmin, in apologising for late arrival, was able to blame the Ministry of Fuel and Power as well as the British railways.
Racing Cars On show
The Victoria League intends to hold a display of veteran, vintage and modern racing cars, loaned by well-known personalities, at Henly Hall, Osnaburgh Street, London, W.1, together with racing motorcycles, side shows, picture and a B.H.D.C. film. The show will be open from January 5th – to 17th inclusive, the admission charge being 2s. for adults and 1s. for children.