BY the time you read these notes the seeond round of the World Championship will have been fought and in a very few days the third round will be taking place. The second race was of course, the Swiss Grand Prix, held this year on that magnificent circuit round the Bremgarten Forest. While the Italians gave full support to the Swiss, the English could only give a minimum due to the T.T. being so close. On the other hand, the Italians show no interest in the T.T., apart from the 122 c.c, and 250 c.c. classes, so that neither of these two rounds prove very much in the Anglo-Italian battle for world honours. We shall have to wait until the Belgian G.P. and the Dutch T.T. before we can really see full teams from all the factories doing unstinted battle. Even then the Dutch may be affected by its abnormality of having a fuelling stop. Really, when these World Championships are analysed they leave a lot to be desired at the moment. For my part the Belgian G.P. and the Monza race are the only two which really prove very much, though this year possibly the French G.P. at Albi will prove instructive. The 500 c.c. class must be considered the race of primary importance for this World Domination, and at present only England and Italy participate though Germany may be in full swing soon, and when the T.T. entry list has only one Italian entry, and that of a private owner with an old bicycle, it can hardly be counted as a round of the World Championship, even though it is described as such on the International Calendar. Similarly, the first of the series for this year, the Spanish G.P., contained only private-owner representation from this country, so that too can hardly be counted. What it all boils down to is that as it stands the Classic situation is far from satisfactory. The issue is far too complex to say point blank what should be done; imagine, for instance, relegating our T.T. to the status of a National event. Bearing in mind that all the English manufacturers, accessory “kings” and trade in general build their whole racing programme around the T.T. and you will see the magnitude of getting the Classics into stone sort of order. The Continental Federations who organise the various Classics are not so fortunate as the A.C.U., they have to make their events pay, and the money comes from the public who attend the races, so they must hold their events at convenient times for attracting the most spectators Whatever way one thinks of for bringing the Championship series to an ideal state someone has got to make sacrifices, and whether the interest of the sport can override big business I very much doubt.
In the entries for the T.T. it is good to see Velocettes officially supporting the 250 c.c. class and in Bob Foster, Bill Lomas and Cecil Sanford they have a very fine combination of brains, guts and skill. the last named rider being a lad to watch carefully. In Fergus Anderson and Enrico Lorenzetti, riding Gambalunghino Gtizzis that firm has a pair of the “foxiest” riders of the present day, while Dario Ambrosini’s lone entry on the wonderful Benelli has a quality known throughout the world. As a National race, the 350 c.c. class could prove quite interesting and similarly with the 500 c.c. class, but for Internationally-minded enthusiasts these two classes hold nothing. The 125 c.c. race, at long last officially recognised by the A.C.U. has a remarkable entry, with manufacturers’ teams from England, Spain and Italy. The efforts of those stalwart English lads who are riding tiddlers must not he scorned if the foreign competition proves overwhelming, for the Continentals have four years’ encouragement behind them and that is a lot of time to catch up with.
A recent photograph I was looking at showed one of the top flight sidecar racing men in this country, indulging in a delightful piece of “oversteering.” He was rounding a left-hand corner with his passenger really doing his stuff in best Continental style, that is, lying out headfirst in front of the sidecar wheel, and the outfit was on some 30° of right lock, with the rear wheel nearly two feet out of line with the direction of travel. There was no tendency for the sidecar wheel to lift up and the outfit could be “power-driven” round the bend. At one time there was always the fear of the “chair” wheel lifting on a left-hand bend, with an English outfit, that is, but nowadays, with the modern road racing sidecar and a good passenger there is no hope at all of the sidecar wheel lifting. The limiting factor to the speed on a left-hand corner is the adhesion of the rear tyre with the road. Naturally, if the passenger is not in the right place at the right time, the outfit will lift. The outfit in question was one with no suspension on the rear wheel and though this method of “power-cornering” can be applied with a suspended back wheel, the outfit is not so smooth in its action, due to the in evitable “roll: that. occurs. On Eric Oliver’s Grand Prix outfit, with swinging arm rear suspension, and soft suspension at that, this roll is very noticeable, and while he “power-drives” the outfit round left-hand corners and it is reasonably stable, a bump will cause it to porpoise somewhat and then the mastery of the World Champion over three wheels comes to the fore. I feel that a second-rate rider would not get out of difficulties that to Oliver are not difficulties.
While on the subject of these new Nortons, the Manx model, with the swinging arm rear suspension, one cannot help being pleased to see the first production one on show at the Festival for the world to see. I would much rather see it in action on the circuits of the world, however, proving how really good it is, especially when some of the regular English Continental circuit riders are struggling so valiantly with obsolete models. Although 50,000 people a day may be seeing it in all its splendour on a dais, 25,090 people each week seeing it receive the chequered flag to the sound of God Save the King would do this country unquestionable good.