Needless Friction

Why is it that British motor races are so prolific of irritating clashes between drivers and officials ? The R.A.C. race for 1,500 c.c. cars in the Isle of Man was a typical example, and a review of the various ” incidents ” may prompt some suggestions for eliminating them in the future.

First, the circuit. There is surely something wrong in the fact that a different circuit has been used by the R.A.C. every year for the last three years, and that the circuit chosen last month was considered by the drivers to be so dangerous that a petition was raised giving voice to this opinion. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that those responsible for choosing the circuit are out of touch with present-day racing conditions, and that drivers, club and local officials should get together and thrash out what is required. Secondly, the matter of number-boards on the fronts of the cars. If painted numbers can be read on the 18o m.p.h. racing cars in Continental races, surely it is unnecessary for 1,500 c.c. racing cars to carry a special board—which is difficult to fit without interfering with the steering lock and cooling. British

timekeepers, however handy they may be with a stop-watch and slide-rule, are apparently unable to identify either the cars or their drivers without the aid of number-boards, which somehow remind one of reliability trials.

Before leaving the question of numbers we wish it were possible to allot permanent numbers to all drivers every year, as is done in the U.S.A. The racing public, as well as the apparently short-sighted timekeepers, woula then be able to identify the drivers more readily, and the drivers themselves would be able to have a permanent legible number painted on their cars, which would not be submitted to a series of daubs.

Then we come to the little matter of Lehoux’s practice lap. To make fastest time on one of the team cars, and then to be relegated to the seventh row because that car did not happen to be the identical machine he was to drive in the race, must have been a bitter experience even for such a genial sportsman as Marcel Lehoux. Such complete ignorance of the word” discretion” ignores the fact that motor-racing is still held by most people in this country as being a sport and not a bard-and-fast contract in which the driver, like the purchaser of a hardly-won bargain, must beware. In a word, let us have officials of broader outlook and capable of administering rules not only in the letter but in the spirit in which they were drafted.

When one adds to this list of mistakes the refusal of the R.A.C. to approve of the suggested date for the postponed Le Mans race on the grounds that it would clash with the County Down Race, then indeed, one begins to ask whether it is not high time the British racing fraternity demanded a drastic reorganisation of the R.A.C. racing committee.

Never was action by the B. R.D . C. so strongly demanded.

Finally, we come to the vexed problem of the prize money. That the R.A.C. can calmly absolve themselves from blame for the disparity between the amounts shown in the supplementary regulations and those published in the programme, by transferring the responsibility to those in the Isle of Man, is a crowning example of pusillanimity. Unfortunately racing drivers have scant time and show little inclination to serve on committees, leaving the oligarchy of permanent officials in full control. Committee men with racing experience are badly wanted.