THE CAPE RALLY
THE CA I ‘E It A I ..LY
I was astonished to read the comments.
in the British Press on the recent Daily Express Torquay Rally, and I think that yolir own remarks were most timely. It is really sickening to those of us in ” Foreign Lands,” who are trying to uphold the prestige of British cars to see so much lass made over a footling jaunt down to Torquay, whilst ti real ” trial ” in the accepted sense of’ the word is totally ignored. I refer of course to the Mediterranean to Cape Town Motor Rally which is at present proceeding and which for some reason or other appears I o have escaped the attention of both the Press and the Sport in Britain. Here is a real motor-car trial in the old pioneer spirit, which is so much in evidence throughout the development of ‘ the motor-car in France. The course is. from the North African coast, across the -Sahara through Nigeria, French Equatorial Africa, the Belgian Congo, Kenya, Tanganyika, North and South Rhodesia, the Union of South Africa down to Cape Town, a total distance of 9,500 miles, all of which has to be covered at an average speed of 35 k.p.b., including involuntary stops. Interest. iii the rally t liron Ighotit Africa is tremendous, and being myself a member of the organising eommittee I know just what the Rally u.eatis to those who have had the pluck to enter for ii. (If the nine countries represented—’h Itere is not a single Britisher —there arc Frenclunen, Italians, Spanish,
fungarian, Belgian, (‘reeks, Germans. Americans and Egyptians and you may imagine how small ” we 13ritishers feel when it comes to the question of entertainment and no representative of Britain is entitled to be present. The only British vehicle is a Land Rover driven by a Frenchman, yet there are •
little 4 C.V. Renaults And 74h.p. Dyna Panhards, Lancias, Delahaye, Hotehkiss, Chevrolet, Ford, Baia,. Willys and others. Of the official Delahaye ‘teams two consist of French military personnel driving specimens of the new French Army “Jeep.” What. is the matter with Whitehall that a British Army team driving the new British “Jeep” Was not entered. What better ” proving ground ” could there be than the deserts, the swamps, the mountains, etc., of the vast Continent of Africa. And what better prestige could be obtained. What will be the effect on our Colonial. possessions and other communities in Africa to see units of the French Army going through in triumph. In the old days we ” showed the Flag ” by vending a couple of warships or a battalion of troops to impress the locals,. but those days are past.
Again we learn that Britain must export more and more goods; especially cars. Although British cars have improved out of all recognition, they are still by no means ideally suited to Colonial conditions and the sellers’ market here is steadily drying up. These French and Italian and American cars in the Rally will bring tremendous publicity to their manufacturers, whilst the mere fact that Britain has refrained from entering has encouraged the view that neither her ears nor her driven; were up to the task. It is no use pointing to British suceessess in the Monte Carlo Rally and the Alpine trial, these are mere names to the Colonial, and anyway he regards them as child’s play compared with the sort of motoring that is done in Africa, where we habitually cover up to ‘600 miles a day putting 70 miles and more into each hour, and folks think nothing of going 40t’) miles each way for a week end at the seaside. The major portion of African main roads is the sort that would gladden the heart of a British trials organiser looking for an especially difficult ” observed section,” but this is everyday motoring to us, and -at the same time temperatures vary from below freezing to 1200 in the shade.
The competitorswill be here in Cape Town on February 23rd and it will be with a heavy heart that I shall stand on the finishing line to welcome them in, knowing that not one of them will have the same mother tongue as myself. They (the trade) will say, of-course, that it coststoo much, but does it.? The Government has poured 130 millions odd down the drain in the East African groundnuts fiasco; would not it be worth a few paltry thousands for the sake of the prestige that would accrue to the Union Jack ? There is little respect left for Mit flag throughout our onetime Empire in all MI 1’46(.1 ICO, and I was taught at. school that I mile follows the flag. Let, Its see a few flags stuck on cars showing their worth throughout the length and breadth of Detroit’s strongholds. I am, Yours, etc., Cape, S. Africa. J. B. HoLmEs, R.A.C. (S.A.)