The Position of Motor Cycling Sport. By T W Loughborough A.M.I.A. E
[As Secretary of the Auto-Cycle Union and Secretary-General of the International Federation of Motor Cycling Clubs, Mr. Loughborough has rendered much service to motor cycling sport. His views on the present status of competitive motor cycling are of special value].
It is fairly obvious that, human nature being what it is, a League of Nations is in theory eminently desirable. Without some such control, squabbles must become conflicts, and their ultimate result suicidal to all but the top dog, who, having conquered every foe, ceases to sharpen his teeth, declines and falls. So dismal an ending is unthinkable in the realms of sport, the very nature of which demands healthy competition and a loyal submission to a governing body.
Indeed it may well be that the example set by those who, as did the ancient Grecians, recognise consciously or unconsciously the national value of sports and games, will prove a saving grace to a troubled world. The cricket bat may carry conviction where the pen-mightier, we are told, than the sword—invites suspicion.
In such an armoury the motor cycle is a valuable weapon. It is hardly recognised to what an extent the sport of motor cycling has gripped the world to-day. Finland has its national motor cycling association, motor cycling competitions vie with the older winter sports in Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Germany, with an eye to business, has developed the baby motor cycle, and trials and races for these little machines are the order of the day. Italians are keen as garlic on motor cycle racing.
In almost all our overseas dominions there is a flourishing association of motor cycling clubs, whilst at home, you cannot pick up a newspaper, whether Printed in the Isle of Man, the North Riding of Yorkshire, or even the Channel Islands, without finding some reference to this sport. What is the reason for such universal popularity of the motor cycle ?
The cynic will reply that it is the result of clever and persistent propaganda on the part of the manufacturers of motor cycles. Like all cynics, he states but half the truth. The other half contains the real answer to our question, and it is that motor cycling is not merely a young man's hobby, but that it is the most invigorating, form of transport—not excepting the aeroplane—that we have today.
With a motor cycle one can get away, almost anywhere—one can suit the difficulties of the track or the charms of the road to one's liking. The fascination of a marvellously efficient mechanism may be enjoyed or ignored—speed or shelter—mountain or plain—fair weather or foul—all are more intimately yours for a car. Clearly we have in the motor cycle an incomparable weapon for sport or play, and little wonder is it that the youth of Scandinavia, the men of Germany, the Italians, the Swiss, even the stolid Dutchmen, have at last appreciated what for many years the Englishman has enjoyed.
The Council of the Olympic Games does not recognise motor cycling as a sport. Most sports require an inanimate adjunct— ball, bat, gun or boxing glove— some an animate, such as polo or horse racing. In the latter class the necessary adjunct is of equal, if not greater, importance than
the human skill of the competitor. And so with motor cycling. Logically, motor Cycling is as much a sport as ski-ing or shooting—more so, indeed, than yachting or coursing.
Moreover, it has this advantage, that whereas skates and guns, polo ponies and tennis racquets are practically standardised, the motor cycle is still in process of evolution. No better encouragement can be given its maker than the opportunity of entering it in competition with other makes. Every improvement so demonstrated, not only makes it a more valuable advertisement for him but increases its popularity for general use.
From the above it will be understood that the proper encouragement and control of the sport of motor Cycling is a somewhat more difficult problem than that presented to the Ping-pong Association—if there be such a body! Commercialism in motor cycling is like manure in a garden—unpleasant in itself, but valuable in its proper place. Without it the sport would languish; with too much of it the rank growth of professionalism would smother the genuine amateur, and we should soon sink to the level of the prize-ring and the billiard-saloon.
It is up to the Auto-Cycle Union—the controlling body of the sport in this country, and the moving spirit in the International Federation of Motor Cycling Clubs, to watch this danger. Never let it be said as is to-day said of certain kindred bodies, that the sport is run by the trade. The trade, both here and abroad, have loyally supported the national motor cycling organisation, it is to their vital interest to continue to do so. The day the industry attempts to control the sport will be a bad day for both.
In this short article I have attempted to make a very brief sketch of the position of the sport of motor cycling as it appears to me today. I rather fear the Editor will be disappointed, and would have preferred me to write of the inner workings of the Jockey Club of motor cycling. However much pride in its work would urge me to lay bare the activities of the Auto-Cycle Union, modesty dictates that such revelations should come from some other pen than mine.
I have thought it better to try and impress the reader with a sense of the importance of motor cycling. If he should be a motor cyclist well, he will take it for granted, but the man in the street—particularly if he drives a motor car—he does want educating!