HE impossibility of holding road races in England is a fact so long and often bewailed that there seems at first little point in bringing up the subject again. Many have suggested that some private park or estate should be obtained and utilised for this purpose, but such places are not so easily available as people
Therefore, instead of imagining courses which do not, and at present cannot exist, would it not be better to consider what can be done with the resources at present available? The centre of motor racing in this country is Brooklands, and it is really surprising to think how little has been done in the last two decades to make better use of the facilities which its founder provided. In the last two years a great deal has been done in the way of improving the club house, and in making it more attractive from a social point of view. This is all to the good, and those responsible for it are to be commended on their work, but allowing for this we are forced to the conclusion that this has been the chief line on which improvements have been made. Unfortunately it is not the line that is really most important. To the real en thusiast, be he a member of the public or a member of the B.A.R.C., it is a matter of completely minor impor tance how grandly the official sanctums are decorated, or in what atmosphere of luxury a member may pass his leisure hours at the track. If he gives such matters
a thought, it is probably to the effect that equal comfort can be obtained elsewhere for less money, and that the primary object of the track should be to stimulate interest in motor racing, by providing racing which is really interesting both to take part in and to watch.
It is in this particular that Brooklands falls badly short. What everyone wants to see in a race, is something approaching road conditions, where the niceties of braking, cornering, gear-changing, etc., are brought into play, and what is more will be readily visible to the public.
There are various roads at the track, some of which have been used for high speed trials, but for racing with fast cars these would require widening and making up. As this would involve considerable expense we must first see what can be done with the track itself, and here there is little need for thought or originality, as we have only to expand on the ideas used for some of the bigger events of a few years ago.
The R.A.C. Grand Prix, the later J.C.C. 200 miles races, the Essex Club Six-hour races, the Production Car race, and others, pointed the way to making a more interesting circuit than the usual “round-and-round.” If the track is to become really popular with drivers and public, such circuits must not be confined to rare longdistance events, but must form part of the programme of each meeting. We had hoped that when the new management took over the track, this would be done, but as no interesting circuits have been devised for any event, long or short, we conclude that club and social matters have dwarfed
the racing side of the programme,—at least for the present. Some may answer that the Mountain races fill the bill at ordinary meetings, but we cannot agree with this. Their introduction was certainly a step in the right direction and made us hope for more, but we were disappointed. This particular circuit has advantages from the organiser’s point of view, in that it requires next to no preparation, but when one considers the abundance —we are tempted to say superfluity—of officials at Brooklands, lack of hands in the organising department can hardly be a reason for discarding more complicated events.
Most would-be competitors cannot afford very long events, as apart from the high entry fees usually associated with them, the wear and tear on the car, together with tyres, fuel, and other items, put them outside the reach of any but affluent private owners. A race of between twenty and fifty miles should provide excellent opportunities, according to the course, of
good driving showing up well, without making it necessary to supertune engines to the extent required for a sprint event. The next things to consider are the requirements and limitations of the circuits available. There is, and always will be, a place in the scheme of things for the straight away races on the outer circuit, though a little more variety in their length, and rather less of them on a programme, would be an improvement. Therefore nothing in the way of artificial turns must obstruct the outer circuit, and we are confined to the ” finishing ” straight, to which to introduce corners. Those used in the R.A.C. Grand Prix, consisting of double S bends, are very suitable, as their speed and position can be
easily varied. In this race the cars came off the Byfleet banking all out and came down the straight to a set of bends almost opposite the paddock stand. This gives the public a good view of the cornering. The safety of the public must naturally be considered, but the present management are too apprehensive to need reminding of that, and rather need impressing with the fact that the public, as well as wishing to be safe, would also like to see a little racing ! It would, however, as well as reducing the speed of the cars entering the bend, increase the interest of the circuit if further bends were introduced at the Fork, such as the ” tub ” hairpin used in at least one 200 miles race. In this the cars came down to the Vickers Sheds, round the “tub,”
which is easily removed and replaced, and doubling back, take the corner at Chronograph Villa, used in our present Mountain events. The actual tub can be moved along to give various distances between the corners, so as to avoid merely
another S-bend, while there will be ample room to attain a reasonable speed before the next set of bends is reached, thus giving a further test of braking and cornering, without an excessive speed close to the palings of the public enclosure. Another S-bend made with sand banks can be placed, after the manner of previous events, at the end of the
straight, giving a lead onto the banking, and also certain advantages to those in the paddock in the way of a better view of this point.
A circuit using the members’ banking involves using the inside of the straight at the Byfieet end if a set of corners at the Fork is to be used, and as this part is even rougher than the rest of the track, and as the straight itself cannot then be used, the first proposed idea seems more suitable, both for the drivers and spectators.
The idea of confining the whole circuit, with corners, to the length of the present Mountain course, may at first seem attractive, but a little thought will show that this gives little chance for maximum speed to be used advantageously. If a car will go fast as well as round corners it should have a chance of doing so, and the greater part of the outer circuit will be available for this.
This circuit suggested is far from ideal, owing to the obvious limitations of the track itself, but it would at least provide racing of reasonable interest, which would give opportunity of trying cars out without much expense, in preparation for the later road races, of picking drivers for more important races, and most important of all, it would give the not-too-well-off amateur a chance to run on his own car.
In view of these objects it is essential that regulations should be confined to those ensuring the fitness and safety of the vehicle entered, instead of enforcing the present “standard car race” regulations, which force the entrant to build a special car to comply with body and other regulations !
In the matter of driving rules, if such events are to teach people to drive, there must be no regulations with regard to passing on corners. The driver should be free to use his discretion and take whatever opportunity his fellow competitors give him, and. the course should at all points be wide enough for such passing. There is at present a rule in the Mountain races which forbids passing inside at the Fork hairpin. This entirely fatuous regulation means that a bad driver, taking the corner too fast and swinging wide, is condoned for his folly by the fact that a following driver cannot take a correct course and slip ahead, but must either hang behind or attempt to’ pass on the outside,_a usually impossible feat. As the corners are the only points which enable a good driver to pass a bad driver on a car of equal performance, the sooner drivers are allowed more freedom in their methods the better. The stewards can easily warn
any driver whose enthusiasm outruns his discretion, and the threat of this, quite apart from the normal instinct of self preservation, should ensure safety while raising the standard of driving.
Comparisons are said to be =desirable, but they are sometimes useful in making a point, so let us compare the track with a West-end theatre, as both are out to give entertainment. At most theatres a sum of thirty shillings will not only provide two of the best seats in the house, with highly paid artists to perform for one’s pleasure, but will also leave enough for garaging the car.
At Brooklands two people and a car wish entrance to the paddock, and it is” Two pounds please ! ” For this sum they may stand about in varying degrees of discomfort, according to the weather, what time a number of drivers, who have all paid highly for the privilege, compete in races of distressing uniformity.
The reduction made in the ordinary admission prices during the Whitsun meeting was a most welcome innovation. Is it too much to ask for better stand accommodation, and more varied racing ? The latter will at least cost the track no money, and may make up to some extent for other defects.
Brooklands has great possibilities as a spectacle and as a valuable aid to British motor racing. Let us hope that they may some day be fully exploited.