Stock-Car Racing Comes To England



The stars, or rather the full moon, shone for “Digger” Pugh when he organised the first Stock-Car Meeting at New Cross Stadium on Good Friday evening. Every available inch of the place was filled (25,000 spectated) and crowds were left outside. Moreover, there was incident aplenty. One car fell on its side, another became poised on its roof on the outside of the course, the track became blocked with cars so that competitors still in motion had to take to the infield, wings and bumpers fell off, tyres punctured, but still they drove on, and C. J. Hamilton’s De Soto coupé lapped cheerfully on three wheels. Moreover, Tanya Crouch in her Ford V8 saloon “Bandbox ” beat all the men in her heat and nearly pushed her French rival, Mme. d’Orgeix, from the course.

No blood was spilt, and if this is the racing you like Pugh gives you it, even on a one-eighth-mile circuit. Car makes do not appear in the programme but they are mostly Fords and other Yanks, from J. Crabb’s “heap” to the dolled-up cars of Rumfitt and Cliff Davis. An Army-type Humber, a Renault and a Buick also ran. The other heat winners were W. Camus (France), F. J. Parsons (Peckham) and J. W. Goody (Newington Butts). The final was a victory for C. d’Orgeix of France. The French drivers showed the technique of avoiding prangs where possible, and taking them as lightly as possible when they came and d’Orgeix skilfully motored half a lap in reverse after he had been spun round! Outstanding at the graft was Pozzoli, billed as a G.P. driver, but he retired with a damaged gearbox; Tanya Crouch also lost second gear before the final, in which she was pranged good and proper, thereafter sitting in her car for what must have seemed hours as others biffed and banged her about.

This is circus-stuff all right, yet skill is needed in dodging trouble and spinning a faster car off the course; low-geared steering no doubt accounted for Tanya’s arms working as Nuvolari’s used to, but she did show mere males how it’s done.

Suitable Fords for the job now cost about £40 but Cliff Davis paid £8 for his (before Valspar beautified it) and says it’s “the best eight quid I’ve ever spent.”

Lord Howe watched the racing and Stanley Sedgwick did a fine job keeping the lap score. Like having a ride on the Giant Racer at the fair, stock-car spectating is something many people will want to try once, and while this is so an adequate “gate” is assured. So far, the intrepid drivers do not seem to be compensated in fair proportion — d’Orgeix apparently took only £60. The crowd showed appreciation of the incidents and obviously, judging by their vocal efforts, Young America in the 20/– seats thinks “Digger’s” fare is “just swell.” Let me be honest — I wouldn’t mind seeing some more myself and I wish I had a brace of V8 heaps for sale! — W. B.

(After an evening watching organised destruction I did a penance, staying out of bed until 3 a.m., assisting with two breakdowns on the Portsmouth Road, involving an A30 (gasket) and a P3 RollsRoyce (ignition)! —Ed.]

The Eastern Counties M.C. Felixstowe Rally has been transferred from May 22nd/23rd to May 29th/3Oth.