Matters of moment, July 1974

50 years young

This issue of Motor Sport marks the fiftieth anniversary of the journal’s introduction, for it was started, as The Brooklands Gazette, in July 1924. We feel that we cannot let this pass without of congratulation and good wishes for the future our staunch readers. These letters are very much even though it is but possible to publish a small brief comment, in view of the very kind letters which we have been receiving from so many of appreciated, as is all the correspondence we get, proportion of it. Happy as we are to have survived in a healthy condition for half-acentury, we have decided that as the industry is still recovering from the disastrous threeday week, and with so much unrest about in both the Motor and the Printing Industries, it will be more opportune to postpone any idea of a special jubilee issue until 1975, when the Motor Sport title itself will be 50 years of age—for, wishing to broaden their scope, the original Proprietors of the magazine changed the title from the one with a Weybridge-flavour to the clever, all-embracing Motor Sport in August 1925.

Meanwhile, the Editor and Proprietor give thanks to the staff, both editorial and secretarial, the contributors, the printers, the distributors, the advertisers and, in particular, to the readers, who have made possible the continued success of Motor Sport, over the past eventful 50 years. The present Proprietor took over not long before war was declared in 1939, but Motor Sport was published without interruption throughout the period of hostilities, albeit in curtailed form. He has since added further to his motor-publishing interests, with the monthly Motorcycle Sport and the weekly Motoring News. The present Editor met the new Proprietor soon after the pre-war takeover. He had read Motor Sport without a break from issue No. 1 (which he discovered at the age of eleven) and was to have a great deal to do with its publication from 1936 onwards. So he was as delighted as he was surprised to be asked to edit it after peace had broken out again, in 1945. He has held this position ever since, paying the penalty in the form of being interviewed at his home a year or so ago by the BBC’s Cliff Michelmore as the person who has .sat in the Editorial chair of a British motor journal longer than anyone else, which is about the only association with the paper that W.B. says he would .prefer to forget!

Until our full-scale Jubilee next year, what we propose to do is simply to underline the dramatic changes which have taken place in publishing and motoring since our first copy went on the book-stalls in 1924, by quoting extracts from that first issue and those of the July numbers in subsequent decades:

1924: When we were born public road speed events had nearly run their course and the mecca of motoring sport was Brooklands. The July issue carried it report on the Whitsun races, at which Capt. ‘Poop had unfortunately been killed when the Peugeot he was driving went over the Byfleet banking. The winners were Dr. Beniatield (Bentley), Giliow (RiloY). Count Zborowski (Mercedes), Gordon England (Austin 7). C. G. Brocklcbank in the ill-fated Peugeot, Black stack (Bugatti) and Clive Gallop (Ballot).

A BMCRC motorcycle meeting at which Claud Temple’s British Anzani Montgomery won the fastest race at 105.42 m.p.h, was also covered. We started out, as we hope we have continued, an influential journal. Thus that first number contained article by Capt. Frazer-Nash about his racing GN “Kim”, C. F. Temple on riding the Montgomery at 113 rn,p.h., Col. Lindsay Lloyd on Brooklands, T. W. Loughborough on motorcycling sport, Capt. W, G. Aston on high-efficiency engines, and Ivy Cummings on how this girl regarded her motor racing. George Brown debated with George Reynolds whether the TT should be run in England. Capt. Richard Twelvetrees wrote of taking his 11.9 Bean through the MCC London-Edinburgh Trial. There were copious Club notes, and roadtest reports on the 3-litre Bentley and the SS80 Brough-Superior. The Editor was Oscar E. Seyd and the price 5p.

1934: It had all become much more sophisticated. The photographic front-cover showed the Hon. Brian Lewis leading the start of the loM Mannin Moar in a 2.6 monoposto Alfa Romeo (he won, at 75.34 m.p.h.). We reported Le Mans, ShelsleyWalsh, the Montreux GP (which the ill-fated Count Trossi won for Alfa Romeo), AVM, the Southport “100”, Indianapolis, the British Empire Trophy race, etc. Also those Mannin races, the small-car event a victory for Norman Black’s MG Magnetic. And Guthrie’s win on a Norton in the TT. It was mostly reports. But there were roadtests of a used sports Alfa Romeo supplied by Street & Duller and of a current 3.6-litre Renault Special Six d/h. The Editor was anonymous and the price 2.1/2p.

1944: We had just about got through nonstop publishing of Motor Sport during the war, which W.B. edited by remote control from Farnborough and Ilarrogate, helped by enthusiastic readers who sent him their eagerly-awaited contributions from ships at sea, RAF aemdromes, and Army camps. In spite of Hitler we ran to 24 pages, with a Brooklands picture on the front cover and advertising, including some of the avidly-read “smalls”, from the Lanchester Motor Co., Lucas, Papworth, Laystall, Aston Martin, Robinson’s Jubilee Clips, and the specialist used-car dealers. The Editor was being technical about the 1,000 h.p. RollsRoyce R-type aero-engine which had clinched the Schneider Trophy for Britain and was developed into the R-R Merlin that was the salvation of this country during the Battle of Britain. He also looked back on the 1923 200-Mile Race, won by a 12/50 Alvis. There was a long “Cars I Have Owned” by an Officer in the Indian Command, letters from readers mostly with Service addresses, and Holland Birkett was airing his views on motor-racing for the impecunious, which bore fruit after the war in the form of the 750 and 1172 Formule. The war had put the price back to 5p.

1954: It was all go now! in the July issue we reported on the Ferrari/Jaguar duel at Le Mans, had Salvadori on the front cover driving a Gilby Mascrati at Snetterton, and packed our pages with sporting events. The Editor was on about the Decline of the Small British Sports Car, Aintree’s opening meeting was covered, Rob Walker was entertaining about his visir to Sebring and to show that we regarded (as we still do) motoring thought that we have out-circulated the older ones since 1924. And, as C.G.G. of The Aeroplane weekly (which Motor Sport has out-lived) used to remind us, to have been first merely proves antiquity, but to become the first proves merit!