Solving a wee problem...

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It is good news that the late Anthony Blight’s book Georges Boesch and the Invincible Talbot has been republished.

One item in the 1970 Grenville/Motor Sport edition puzzled me. Blight wrote of “…the strain on the driver’s bladder, which few could control for 500 miles round the kidney-jolting Outer Circuit of Brooklands. It had been common at one time for drivers to take with them an old inner tube, sealed at one end, which they slipped over the side after use when they thought none was looking; but the public soon began to notice the large numbers of worn-out tubes littering the Track, and understandably thought these had been flung from the tyres.

“In due course, this came to the attention of Dunlop’s, who promptly demanded that this practice cease forthwith, lest their international prestige should suffer. Wikoxson managed to evade this by supplying the Talbot drivers with bicyde tubes; but John Cobb preferred to drive with a towel wrapped round him, presumably following the Duke of Wellington’s recommendation that ‘a drip in time saves nine’.”

Now, most of the ‘500’ entries were for two drivers per car, so that even with only one pit-stop, the time in a car need not be much more than two-and-a-half hours, which fit racing men could surely have stood, without having to fumble around for inner tubes on cockpit floors?

I could only think that Blight had dropped a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor into a serious book! I watched many ‘500s’ and never saw the Track littered with tubes, nor have I seen any reference to this in BARC minute-books. It would be dangerous for any object, heavy or not, which might hit or distract a following driver, to be thrown from a car during a race. And the solution suggested to have been adopted by Cobb seems rather messy — and from an ex-Etonian, too!

However, there might, I thought, be an explanation. Once I had read Blight’s graphic descriptions of long-distance Brooklands races, I remarked that we must both have been at the Track at the same time; Anthony said, “Oh no, I never went there…”

Later, I met an old Dunlop PR man and told him of the inner tubes. “But I told Blight this as a joke,” he said. “It’s not in his book, is it?” I wonder whether the passage has been deleted from the new edition?

Whatever, don’t let this stop you reading one of the great one-make books about one of Britain’s great cars. It is most readable, with detailed accounts of those fine Talbots and their very considerable successes, in racing and trials.

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