Matters of moment, January 1951

A very happy new year!

This is a very appropriate issue in which to wish all our readers—they have multiplied exceedingly since the war—a very happy New Year and all the motor sport they could wish for during 1951.

There is no doubt about it, motor sport has “arrived,” not only in this country but all over the world. Six-figure crowds pour to our Silverstone circuit to watch important races, vast entries are received for rallies–470 for the recent Daily Express 1,000-mile Rally and 600 would-be entries from Britain for this month’s Monte Carlo, for instance—trials are as popular as ever, and many of our leading newspapers not only cover motoring competitions but put up substantial money prizes.

The B.B.C. is putting more motor sport on the air than ever before, television and news-rad cameras are a familiar sight at motoring fixtures, arid a new tolerance is growing up between sports-car drivers and the police and politic. Club membership has risen far beyond pre-war proportions, many useful one-make clubs have come into being, and between them these bodies publish some excellent magazines, notably those hardy pioneers the V.S.C.C. Bulletin and Bugantics and the newer, beautifully-produced Top Gear of the S.S.C.C. The more historic kinds of motor car are well catered fur in all their various forms.

Motor sport is, indeed, more popular than it has ever been before and, international polities permitting, the forthcoming season should be even more successful than the great: year of competitive motoring to which we raised our beer mugs or chammpagne glasses last night.

This is a time when Good Resolutions are made—-and usually broken. It is perhaps, opportune to suggest a few that: should be made now and adhered to throughout 1951. Here we go :-

(1) Starting Money. Organisers should pay this generously at the major British events. Significance is lent to this resolution by a recent note we have received from Barclay Inglis, stating that the Eight-Clubs (limits and Berks, Harrow, Ceinian, Chiltern, 750, Lagonda, Lancia and A.C.) have, otter meeting all expenses in respect of their Silverstone race meeting last June and paying each member club a nominal sum, been able to return to each competitor 17s. in each 20s. Spent on entry fees. Such an achievement shows careful planning and efficient organising and this credit-able pioneering towards less-expensive racing should make this year’s Eight-Clubs’ Silverstone Meeting (June 2nd) an exceedingly popular fixture. Incidentally, shame on H.M. Customs and Excise for attempting to extract their “pound of flesh” from this innocent amateur entertainment, and renewed credit to Inglis for staying their hands.

If “starting money” can be paid thus in respect of a private meeting whose sole revenue cause irons car-park fees and sale of programmes, how can organisers of National and International races which attract tens or hundreds of thousands of paying spectators have the face to demand entry fees and refuse starting money to drivers, without whom no meeting would be possible? Fit subject, this, for a 1951 Resolution!

(2) Arising from (1), it is high time the crippling Entertainments Tax levied on motor-race tickets be reduced to the level of the deductions deneinded from promoters of football and similar sports.

(3) The Government, having rendered the motorist about the most heavily-taxed citizen in the land, must make a resolution not to increase the exorbitant Petrol Tax and to abolish the grossly unfair 25s. per h.p. tax on pre-1947 cars.

This lax imposes is most unfair load on those of us who, through no fault of our own, are unable to take delivery of post-war products. Letters to the national and local newspapers and to your M.P. will aid the passing of this long-overdtie resolution! Demand now it flat rate tax of £10 on all cars, retaining, of course, the tri-car £5 rate. Rearmament has to be Paid for, but Mr. Gaitskell estimates the annual revenue from taxes on private motorists to amount to £98 1/2 million, so we are justified in believing we already cont ribute our share!

(4) Insurance Companies should make a resolution not to take unfair advantage of compulsory third-party cover. To inflate premiums on old cars and even to refuse cover, irrespective of an owner’s accident-free driving record, will, if uncurbed, give an excellent opening for the nationalisation of this branch of the insurance profession. The Government, aided by discontent on the part of the vast numbers of citizens who own cars more than ten years old, could very logically, in seeking to remove motor insurance from private companies, refer to the illogical situation whereby an annual Road Fund licence is issued against a cover-note valid for a week or a day. We disagree with nationalisation but we also disagree with the impossible minimum-cover insurance rate often charged on the older cars. Perhaps if motorists removed all insurance transactions, business and private, front offending companies the profession as a whole might be induced to make and keep this important resolution.

(5) Finally, the one closed on the 1950 race-horizon so far as British enthusiasts were concerned, namely, the failure of the B.R.M., might well be swept from the 1951 sky, providing the B.R.M. Trust makes a New Year Resolution to “iron out the bugs ” in its organisation and function during the coming season with something of the courage and efficiency which characterised John Heath’s Formula II H.W.M. team last year.

With these few suggestions in your lutrals we look ahead to another great year of motor sport. On Easter Monday, March 26th, the trials we are enjoying at present will give place to racing. The go-ahead B.A.R.C. will open the 1951 season with a meting at the excellently-conducted Goodwood circuit.

After this the season will really warm up, with B.R.M. meeting strengthened opposition from Italy, Formula II and III racing contested more keenlythan ever and club meetings in this country, including the inexpensive 750 Club Formula events, thriving strongly.

It would indeed seem that (politicians permitting) Motor Sport’s readers, wherever they may be, are assured of a Very Happy New Year.