PROMINENT SPEEDMEN : Mr. C. S. Staniland.
By The Assistant Editor.
MOST normal individuals have some hobby or other which occupies most of their spare time ; some people are engaged by profession in occupations attended by a certain amount of risk. It will usually be found that the hobbies of the latter are comparatively mild and peaceful, and conversely that those whose hobbies are exciting, are engaged in one or other of the more hum-drum occupations.
Christopher Staniland, however, utterly refutes all these generalisations by engaging in three quite separate and distinct methods of excitement, of which one, is so to speak, his “job.”
Perhaps it would be simpler to sum up his whole existence in the word “speed,” which is the essence of all his activities.
However, leaving generalisations and descending to hard facts, we find that, not content with the milder thrills of an R.A. V. career, Staniland must needs spend all his spare time at Brooklands, either on a Norton motorcycle, or at the wheel of a straight-eight Bugatti, which latter, a comparatively recent acquisition represents the third branch of his speed activities. Educated at Tonbridge, which he left in 1922, Christopher Staniland spent a short but somewhat unprofitable period at one of those institutions where one is supposed to be taught much in a very little time, to wit a” cramfliers.” Such intensive culture, however, did not agree with our friend and after a period of indecision we find him joining the Royal Air Force, an event which provided a certain outlet for his leaning towards motors and speed. , His first motoring exploits were performed on his brother’s motor-cycle, a 1911 Douglas, with automatic inlet valves, a type of machine on which perhaps more modern motor-cyclists have made their debut than on any other. Actually the first machine of his own was a Rttdge Multi, which in its time was considered one of the finest sporting machines on the market, as indeed it
was, with its powerful big single engine, and rather high multi gear ratios. Since then he has owned another Rudge, a Velocette 2-stroke and four Nortons, ranging from a single geared side valve machine to a 588 c.c. o.h.v. model.
In 1923 Staniland made his first appearance at Brooklands, on the Velocette, a machine which had once been the property of Mrs. Jennison and which was known to have exceeded 70 m.p.h. at Clipstone Speed Trials. History does not relate why the Velocette did not feature in the results at Brooklands, but in the following year Staniland began his career as a successful Norton rider.
Riding his own 490 c.c. o.h.v. Norton he made fastest time of the day in a hill climb at Abergele, in Wales and shortly afterwards won his first Brooklands race. At this period he was stationed in Cheshire, but usually managed to attend Brooklands meetings as a competitor.
After his initial success on the track with his own machine Staniland became a frequent competitor .on various Norton machines entered by R. Morley Spring, with whom he had been acquainted for some time. This arrangement has continued till the present time with such success that the Staniland-Spring combination is now considered almost unbeatable in the 500 c.c. and 750 c.c. classes. At this stage, and at Mr. Staniland’s particular request, it must be mentioned that the bulk of the successes of
the ” firm” must be credited to the months of patient work and real ingenuity of George Pearce, who for over four years has acted in the capacity of mechanic to Mr. Spring, and whose activities, like those of so many in this world, are apt to be overshadowed by the blaze of glory which surrounds the successful rider and his machine.
At one meeting during 1924 Staniland established a remarkable record by winning no fewer than four races in the afternoon, a performance which reflects on his cunning in outwitting the handicapper no less than on the speed of the Norton. We cannot resist .this jibe, since handicap events are our pet aversion, but it is quite possible that for once the handicappers made a miscalculation.
In 1925 Staniland had so far established his reputation as a track rider that H. Le Vack entrusted the 1,000 c.c. Brough-Superior to him for the 200 mile race. Unfamiliarity with the machine, tyre and carburettor trouble prevented Staniland from performing with his usual success.
In the 200 mile sidecar race of that year, however, he made amends by winning the 600 c.c. class at record speed, other Norton machines filling the remaining places. Other 1925 successes include the winning of three consecutive private owner’s races and the annexing of
numerous world’s records in various classes and for varying distances.
During 1926 Staniland has been even more to the fore as a winner and has added fresh colour to his nickname of the “Irrepressible Staniland,” by his performances at car race meetings on the Bugatti. Time after time, despite previous wins and revision of handicaps, whether driving solo, sidecar or four-wheeler, Staniland always seems to have enough up his sleeve to secure, at the worst, a place, a feature which is more noticeable with regard to Staniland than to any other speedman. Driving the 8-cylinder Bugatti, which is his own property, “purely for amusement,” Staniland has won several races and established two world’s records ; he attributes much of his speed to the fact that the car has had several thousand miles of really hard use on the
road and is thus ” freer ” than many of the more delicately nurtured racing cars. Incidently it must not be overlooked that the worthy Pearce has also had his finger in the Bugatti pie. It is difficult to say much of one whose career has been such a catalogue of successes, but the end of the 1926 B.M.C.R.C. season is typical of Staniland’s performance, he wins the cups for the best aggregate performance in the 500 c.c. and 750 c.c. solo and has made fastest laps in these classes and in the 600 c.c. sidecar class at speeds of 99.01 m.p.h., 103.76 m.p.h. and 86.02 m.p.h. respectively, while it is interesting to note that his speeds on the 600 c.c. Norton used in the 750 c.c. class (Continued on page 273)
(Continued from page 272).
eclipse those of several twins of the full permissible cylinder capacity.
Staniland considers Brooklands riding every bit as interesting as road racing, of which he has done very little, and considers that knowledge of the track enables one’s lap speed to be increased by as much as 4 m.p.h., however, if the necessary leave can be obtained and no other impediments arise he hopes to try his luck on the I.O.M. course, where he should shine, if he is half as clever on the road as he is on the track. Staniland will continue to drive Nortons during 1927 and we feel sure that the many admirers of his riding will join with us in wishing him continued success in the future as in the past.
A German Austin.
It is most interesting to note the decision of the Austin Motor Co. Ltd., to enter into an arrangement with the Gotha Waggonfabrik Company of Eisenach, Thuringia, for the manufacture of Austin-Seven cars in Germany. The Gotha products, which will be known as ” Dixi ” cars, will be made exclusively of German material and a fixed royalty will be paid to the British makers. ” It is the first time that a German firm has taken over the design of a British car for manufacture,” said Sir Herbert Austin in an interview. He added that the German firm had large and well equipped works and proposed to start on a big programme of manufacture.