The rolling start

There is some excitement about the possibility of a rolling-start, as in the Indianapolis 500, being introduced for F1 racing, even perhaps at this year’s British GP at Silverstone. Lest anyone thinks this will be an innovation in British racing, may I remind you that the JCC used such starts for its ingenious International Trophy Races at Brooklands, from 1937 to 1939. The lead car was called the pacemaker in those days.

To start the 1937 race John Cobb led the field round behind his four-litre V12 racing Sunbeam. The following year the pacemaker was again driven by Cobb, who used a 4 1/2-litre Bentley, with Capt George Eyston wielding the flag. Cobb performed this function again in 1939, the car his V12 Lagonda. Nothing much is new under the sun, as they say.