Rumblings, March 1940

Racing May Resume

A SPOT of racing would go a long way towards cheering us all up during the black period of war. As announced in the Editorial in this issue, a group of enthusiasts is attempting to bring about a war-time meeting. In case Authority raises unassailable objections, although it is difficult to see how they can, these enthusiasts had intended to remain anonymous until an answer from a reliable source indicated just what the prospects are, but as another motoring writer has prematurely spilled the beans, I can state that these workers on our behalf are none other than Peter Clark, Cecil Clutton and Anthony Heal, acting for that ambitious body, the Vintage Sports-Car Club. I am glad to be able to give their names, for this, more than anything else, emphasises the determination, behind the scheme and brings what seemed a fairly remote hope into a quite reasonable and possible project.

The rough outline of how such a meeting would be run, together with arguments in favour of holding a race in war-time and a justification for so doing, are revealed in the Memorandum which the would-be organisers very wisely sent to the Secretary for Mines, Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd, before proceeding with their plans. This Memorandum reads as follows :-

Having repeatedly seen it stated in the Press that the public are quite entitled to use their basic Petrol Rations for any purpose they choose, motoring enthusiasts have begun actively to wish for a limited resumption of competitive motor sport. Discussions have taken place as to devising means whereby the proposed competitions could be so arranged as not merely to avoid criticism on the score of  “wanton petrol extravagance,” but actually to serve some object of definite National value.

It is suggested that a Sports-Car Race could be run (on Pool petrol) on a “Petrol Consumption formula.” Sports-cars may be defined as machines which, as opposed to actual racing-cars, are taxed for ordinary road use, and are therefore entitled to basic petrol rations. At the start, each car would be permitted to start with, say, one gallon of Pool petrol. The race might be nominally of 25 miles, but drivers would continue after that distance until they ran dry. The winner would then be worked out on a combined “speed and distance in excess of 25 miles” basis. The above is only a bare outline, but in considering it the following points spring to mind :—

  1. The fuel consumptions achieved would call attention to the fact that there is still scope for research in this direction. The public would see production sports-cars, not very dissimilar from their own touring models, doing more miles per gallon under arduous racing conditions than their own ears do on leisurely touring. It is in the National interest to encourage research towards better fuel consumption.


  1. The public would realise that, as fast sports-cars can be made to run well on Pool petrol, much of the nonsense talked about its poor quality IS nonsense.

In advancing these arguments, we are not trying to conceal the fact that our main interest as a Club is in the recreational value of such a meeting, both to the competitors and the public. That, too, has a National value, both socially and for propaganda –especially when as they have just done, the German authorities have announced that their motor-racing teams will take part in a full season both at home and abroad.

That the value of sport is recognised is shown by horse racing, which, in spite of the shortage of feeding stuffs (surely far more serious than that of petrol) would, one feels, be carried on “to the last oat “—and rightly, for what effect on the total available supply can the minute amounts used in a racing stable have? We feel that the same may well be said of our proposed meeting, when it is realised that each competitor would be using less than a quarter of his own basic monthly ration.

We can only say that we agree wholeheartedly with the contents and would have advanced just such arguments on behalf of war-time motor-racing as the Vintage S.C.C. has so neatly done in this Memorandum. If such a meeting comes about, as it almost certainly will if a favourable reply comes back from the Department of Mines, a very reasonable support should be assured, as all the suitable sports-cars have not been laid-up and many others, stored away in good order, could be re-taxed (and so “refuelled”) easily enough. As Brooklands and Donington are out of bounds “for the duration” the venue would appear to be the Crystal Palace circuit, easily the most suitable for combating fuel restrictions in the matter of drawing a decent crowd of spectators to the event. We sincerely hope London’s road circuit will he placed at the disposal of the organisers without any trouble, as it would seem that to be fully successful the proposed event should be staged on a proper circuit.

Stop Press

Unfortunately, nothing beyond a formal reply from the Department of Mines had been received by the Vintage S.C.C. up to the time when it became essential to close this page for Press. So we can only hope that a favourable reply will come through, when we shall be able to deal more fully with this matter next month.

Spring Overhaul .

A very well-written book, particularly useful in connection with the spring overhaul, is “Car Care.” Almost every aspect of the job is dealt with clearly and concisely and the illustrations are excellent. The foreword is written by Capt. George Eyston. Copies may be had free of charge, on mention of MOTOR SPORT, if a postcard is sent to C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd., Wakefield House, London, E.C.2.

Odd Spots

Lawton-Goodman, one time Whitlock agents, have built an A.R.P. ambulance on a Big Six Bentley chassis.

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Raymond Mays’s war-time car is a Rover Fourteen saloon.

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Mr. T. P. Breen, the well-known Whetstone dealer, is not related to, nor associated with, Max Breen, who wrote recently for the Evening News.

*   *   *Nowell Edwards, in his poster on behalf of the National Savings Committee, pays us the compliment of labelling his motor-racing picture, which shows a quite passable Alfa-Romeo followed by what is presumably a Bugatti, “Sound Judgment.” But he has gorily optimistic views on the proximity to which the spectators are allowed to approach the course!

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Mercifully we usually avoid bringing home a “thriller” from the library. Recently we slipped up, but must pay Woosman Mills the compliment of saying he certainly gets his motoring technicalities right, in “Grim Chancery,” even where Bentleys and Lagondas are concerned.

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It seems that Burggaller, the German Bugatti driver, died after his aeroplane was shot down by British fighters—providing an answer to Mrs. Petre, who thinks German racing men may be afraid to fight.

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In recent films, an open, straight-eight Jensen, a 2-litre open Aston-Martin, University Motors’ demonstrator V12 open Lagonda, a Wolseley, old and new Bentleys, a sports Singer Nine and an f.w.d. B.S.A. have been noted, as well as the usual Yanks.

 *   *   *New car registrations for December were down by 25,586, but, even so, ninety-three cars of 20 h.p. and over were taxed, an increase over the previous month.