LEADING MOTOR CLUBS.
The Oxford University Motor Club.
By THE SECRETARY. T TS birth and parentage are wrapped in mystery as 1 far as I am concerned ; but I believe that it was
formed in 1910 through the agency of L. P. Openshaw and F. C. Doherty, both of Christ Church. At any rate by 1911 it was in working order and consisted of about twenty members. It was run, then, on distinctly novel lines. When the secretary felt that it would be pleasant to hold a competition, he sent notices round to all the motor-cyclists and car drivers whom he knew apprising them of the fact ; and on the appointed day those who felt so inclined arrived at the venue and paid half a crown and proceeded to have an afternoon’s fun.
It was L. P. Openshaw who set the example of taking competitions seriously. Speed competitions–that is— he always refused to ride in reliability trials, as he considered them so dangerous. Almost every week we used to see in the motor papers that he had won another hill climb on his Zenith Gradua–and it may be of interest to modern speed men to know that in 1913 he covered the flying half mile (electrically timed) in the first competition held against the Oxford City Club at speeds of 72.8 m.p.h. solo and 68.4 sidecar : both from flying starts. This was done with a 90 bore side valve Zenith Gradua—and the sidecar was of the wicker work chair variety now fortunately extinct.
Two Inter Varsity Hill Climbs were held ; one in 1912 and the other in 1913. I think I am right in saying that Oxford won the first and Cambridge the second.
I suppose the modern speedman would split himself with laughter if he could see either of those climbs or the machines ridden, but I can assure him that the riding and tuning were remarkably good. I wonder how many of the present day competitors in InterVarsity Hill Climbs could make a jet for a carburettor ? We had to, as the standard jets fitted to some types were useless for speed.
Then the War came and the Club, of course, closed down until 1919 when Openshaw returned to Oxford and revived it. Then followed two or three years of great achievement. The Club was very small—but its quality made up for that. It produced J. E. G. Harwood, I. P. Riddoch and P. G. Kennedy—to mention three whose names stand out in my mind as I write. This little band of riders won the Inter-Varsity Hill Climb every year until 1922 when the luck turned. In 1921 the writer of this article appeared on the scenes and became secretary of the club and seems to have brought the bad luck with him. Rain washed out the 1922 Climb altogether. Cambridge won the event in 1923, 24, 25 and 26—but this year Oxford managed to get the cups back with a majority of one mark ! And then some people say that Oxford is effeminate ! The restriction placed on competitions held on public roads hit the tuning and driving standards of the club very hard ; and there is no doubt that the present generation, through no fault of their own, are not to be compared
with their predecessors in the art of tuning. They will forgive me for saying this—when I add that their achievements in the art of riding are amazingly good especially as they now get only one speed trial per annum.
Two years ago ” Motor Cycling” presehted a magnificent bowl for the annual reliability competition. So far it has been won by Oxford. At the Hill Climbs, there is put up a challenge cup presented by the British Motor Manufacturers and Trades Union in 1920.
In 1922 the Club’s constitution was changed, and the old O.U.M.C.C. became the O.U.M.C. with H. W. Cook (Christ Church) as President. He is a good friend to the Club and we were fortunate to gain his consent to act in this capacity.
The Club now numbers about 120 members, and has its own club premises in Cornmarket—small at present, but we hope soon to have new premises where all meals can be obtained in our own dining room.
The Club has had all sorts of difficulties to contend with—but, I am glad to say, has always had the confidence and support of the authorities of the University. This is a very great thing, and entirely due to the fact that all members make a point of driving with consideration in and about Oxford.
The three chief events of the year are the OxfordCambridge Hill Climb and Reliability Trial and a Speed Trial against the Oxford City Club. There are also closed reliability trials held from time to time, but the club does not indulge either in picnic runs or rambles for bluebells—we haven’t time. University Clubs are very difficult to manage as we have only twenty-four weeks in the year in which to arrange our fixtures, and in reality we have far less—
as much of that time becomes a “closed season” owing to examinations and Eights Week and Torpids. Also the great majority of the members are engaged in other
sports and pastimes as well, so that it becomes still more difficult to arrange dates to suit everybody.
During the winter months the Club arranges lectures by well known members of the motor world, and in this way we have made many friends. To mention a few : Major Watling, Captain Frazer Nash, Captain Twelvetrees, Professor Lowe and Mr. Barnes have paid us visits and will, we hope, do so again.
My temptation in writing these notes has been to become reminiscent—one of the crimes of old age—and to tell of many things which would waste much valuable space and probably be of interest to me alone ; but may I commend the following answer given to a well known Oxford Police Sergeant by a member once wellknown as an exponent of A.B.C. motor cycles, “You are exhausting straight into the open ! ” ” So are you ! ” (Thirty shillings and costs).
. The Club has many members who are closely associated with motor engineering. I. P. Riddoch is at Blackbusnes’ , J. E. G. Harwood was for several years with J.A.P.’s and Lord Settrington at Bentleys’, and there is a rumour that H. W. Inderwick is going in for the mass production of audiometers.
Whatever the Club has not achieved, it certainly has done one thing—it has shown the conservative and critical denizens of Oxford, that because a man goes in for motor racing he is not ipso facto a menace to road users, although there is a record from Thame to Oxford—but never mind what it is !