The first of the season’s “circus” events did not provide very much interest in so far as the machines were concerned, in fact most interest could be found in the sidecar class. All three races, 250, 500 and sidecar had very mixed entries, with Gambalinghiro Guzzis, ridden by Anderson, the Spaniard Arauda and the German Thorn-Prikker, finishing in that order. The 500-cc race was only notable for the fact that George Hovel and Jost Albisser crashed into each other after finishing first and second. In the sidecar race Oliver won quite easily with his 1951 works Norton, but the race was notable for the fact that four machines were fitted with new Watsonian racing sidecars of very attractive appearance. One of them, ridden by Jacque Drion, Oliver’s partner, was constructed of square section tubing and said to be a prototype. It is evident that the Watsonian factory is not standing still as regards design and the touring sidecars are definitely benefiting from the experience gained by Eric Oliver in his racing, together with trials experience gained by Ron Watson himself and Cliff Bennett a co-director works manager. It was not so long ago that a racing sidecar was merely a gangling collection of tubes and hooks ; now it is as sleek and streamlined a vehicle as you could wish to find.
As these notes are being written, en route for Spain, I hear that the next International Road Race meeting should provide much of interest. By the time this is being read the San Remo races will have taken place, but it seems that MV are experimenting with chain drive in place of the shaft on the four-cylinder and the 125-cc MVs are going extremely well. The unbeatable FB Mondial, that fabulous 2-ohc and 125-cc machine that tops 90 mph in road-racing trim, is not to be raced officially this year, though the bicycles are to be loaned to suitable private owners. The new 200-cc Guzzis have much in common with last year’s “bicilindricas,” the rider being moulded into the saddle and petrol tank, while the oil tank forms the top frame member. The big Guzzis have definitely been pensioned off, the works riders not even being allowed to ride Gambalingha’s at present.
Riding my 500-cc Norton about the Continent, in company with a friend on his 500-cc Sunbeam twin, I cannot help noticing the complete lack of this type of motor-cycle on the Continental roads. In just the same way that baby cars are in the majority, there are small motorcycles, a 200-cc two-stroke, such as the JAWA. appearing to be quite a sizeable machine among the little Peugeots, Monnet-Goyens, Gilberns, and the multitude of motorised bicycles or the slightly larger bicycle type motor-cycles, such as the Guzzi 65 or the Ducati.
France, of course, still abounds in small machines of under 100 cc of apparently unknown make and age, that keep two-stroking along.
Mid-way through the coming month, on May 18th, we see the first of the classics for the World Championships take place, it being the Swiss GP held over the magnificent Bremgarten Circuit on the edge of Berne. There is little doubt that all the works teams will be out in force for this first big event and it should be well worth watching. The Berne Circuit is one that not only calls for a sound machine, but also calls for superb riding ability and the English teams should be able to show up to advantage. Last year the Swiss race was later and nearly clashed with the IoM races and the Berne organisation sportingly laid on a Dakota that took those interested from Berne to Douglas. This year such precarious transport of such a precious cargo will not be necessary, though Duke will not have to hang about after the race if he is to keep his appointment to drive a DB III Aston-Martin in the Empire Trophy, before the TT. How he will fare in car racing we shall eventually see, but it is interesting to recall that in the mid and late twenties Tazio Nuvolari rode motor-cycles and drove cars over the same period and on more than one occasion won both motor-cycle and car race at composite meetings in Italy. The tendency for top line racing motor-cyclists to try car-racing is one that is universal. Recently, at Pau, Jean Behra, one of the leading French riders, had to choose between a Guzzi or a Simca and he chose the latter, while Pagani competed in both races, two and four wheels. One can think of examples of two-wheel dicers taking to four, but not of the other way about. Would Moss or Fangio be incapable of’ racing on two-wheels or is it that the motor-cycle game is a much harder one in which to shine ?
Three days’ free accommodation is available to London MC competitors in the French Trial (we announcement on page 242). Will intending competitors please contact DM Dent as soon as possible.
On May 4th. the Brent Vale Motor Club will organise map-reading test, and a treasure hunt in the Surrey area. The event, starting at 2.30 pm will be run over a course of some 50 miles. Entries : 5s per car. All intending competitors are requested to contact the Hon Secretary not later then May 3rd so that adequate arrangements can be made. Anyone interested in joining the club is to get in touch with RH. Whincup, Hon Sec, 42 Melbury Avenue, Norwood Green, Southall. Middlesex. (Tel. : Southall 1242.)
A rally is to be held on May 25th, 3.30 for 4 pm, at the Old Manor House, Witley, Surrey, for members of the Renault Owners’ Club. All Renault owners contemplating membership will be most welcome. Tea will be provided. For details apply to Hon Sec, 7. Belle Vue, Hill Rise. Greenford. Middlesex.
General post ?
It is rumoured that, following the Austin/Nuffield merger, the 800-cc ohv Austin Seven engine will go into the roadworthy Morris Minor and that a 21/2-litre Riley-engined Austin A90 has been contemplated. The possibilities of such a general pout would seem to be enormous, and with the rising cost of motoring an A90 with a Morris Minor engine might prove acceptable to many “Gentlemen of England”. One wonders, too, whether new composite names will greet these composite cars, such as Austor, Morriford and Tinox ?