MOTOR CYCLE SPEEDMEN.
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s R. E. HUMPHREYS. *18.104.22.168.44444.4.4444 4444 4+44 4-444 44 44 R. E. Humphreys, a Welshman by birth, hailing from Montgomeryshire, is one of the new-comers
in the ranks of prominent motor cyclists, but has nevertheless achieved such successes as to merit his inclusion in the first fighters. At the beginning of his motor cycling career he graduated at the best possible school, namely, the workshop bench, and took his degrees under Professor Experience. Actually his early training took place with Messrs. Godfreys, Ltd., Motor Cycle Agents, of Great Portland Street, and for some time Humphreys
was engaged in testing new machines prior to their delivery to customers.
Later he was employed in the London shops of Messrs. Harley Davidson as a motor cycle mechanic, but at that time was so useful in the shops that there he seemed likely to remain on repairing and tuning touring machines until Mr. W. H. Wells, then the managing
director of the Indian Motor Cycle Company, gave him his first chance on the track with an Indian 1,000 c.c. solo machine.
One can imagine the delight with which Humphreys took this opportunity, especially as it was proposed that he should have charge of one of these big machines in the 200 Miles Race of 1923. The whole arrangement was fixed up at rather short notice, so we find Humphreys coming up to the starter for the big event after having had no more than seven practice laps as his track experience. It is considerably to his credit that on this occasion he fought his way to the third position at the finish. His personal experiences of his first big race are interesting, for he explains that, though he let the machine go fairly well during the practice spins, it was only the stimulus of the actual race that brought out all the desire for the maximum speed. Humphreys explained that when he opened the throttle of the highly tuned Indian he experienced very great surprise at the way the machine seemed to shoot out from under him ; and, instead of
feeling that he was riding it in the ordinary way, he seemed to be something quite unimportant attached to the ends of the handle bars, which by some strange circumstance managed to follow the machine round the track. Another thing that proved somewhat trying at first was the bumping of the machine when passing over the uneven parts of the track. “The bumps were shocking,” said Humphreys, “and at the end of the race my chest was absolutely black and blue.” The worst of the
bumps, we were informed, are located at the end of the railway straight, across the fork, and on the banking near the members’ bridge. Humphreys could not give us any details of spills from racing machines for the simple reason that he has been fortunate enough to avoid them, but on one occasion, during a B.M.C.R.C. meeting, the diagonal stay of a combination collapsed, and the machine “folded up,” causing the rider to cross the track, but
without personal injury. He noticed the mishap for some time prior to his retirement from the race, and was using his knee to act in place of the broken stay, but the pain when riding thus was so intense that he had to move his leg, with the result that the sidecar collapsed.
In the 200 Miles Sidecar Race he was running in the third position after having completed 170 miles, when his petrol pipe broke, and the starved carburettor “popped back” and caught fire. Humphreys failed to pull up at the pits, as he intended to get more petrol, but he did not actually know the machine was alight until this fact was discovered by his passenger.
Humphreys’ other successes include the first place in the 1924 Sidecar Race at 69.66 m.p.h., which was run in the rain, and as he had four stops for petrol his time compares very favourably with that accomplished on a Brough Superior when running in fine weather.
In the 200 Miles Solo Race of the same year he came in third at 82.18 m.p.h., and as the frame of his machine was found to be twisted slightly before the race, the riding was rather tricky, though the whole distance was covered with but one stop for petrol.
In the Belgium Grand Prix of last year, Humphreys was riding a Belgium-made Sheffield Henderson, but as insufficient time was allowed for tuning up and practising, the engine was not in fit condition for the event, and when running close behind the two leaders, C. W. Johnston and F. A. Longman, at 3 hrs. 39 min., valve trouble developed which caused his retirement.
Humphreys is a sturdily built man, with all the physical qualities for handling powerful machines, and hopes during the coming season to demonstrate his abilities by putting up some more very fast times.