Rumblings, May 1957

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An Important New Book

The famous Motor Course at Weybridge will attain its fiftieth anniversary next month. Although it is no longer used for motor racing the old Track will be remembered with affection by all manner of persons who raced, spectated, organised or officiated there between the years 1907 and 1939 when the place was one of the most active motor-racing centres in the world.

It is common knowledge in motoring circles that William Boddy, Editor of Motor Sport, was particularly interested in Brooklands and the cars which competed there. As a memorial to the Track he has been busy for some time revising his History of Brooklands and this book will be published by Grenville on June 17th, which is the fiftieth anniversary of the official opening of the then-brand-new Motor Course by the B.A.R.C.

The finished work will represent perhaps the longest history of motor racing ever published, inasmuch as it runs to over 300,000 words, or three times the length of a full-sized novel. Boddy’s work has the advantage of having both a beginning and an end, for, alas, Brooklands will never again be used for motor racing and so a history about it does not require additional volumes for its completion. It is not only the famous and now legendary Brooklands cars with which the author deals. Naturally, in the pages of this book you meet exciting machines like the 100-in-the-hour Talbot, 200-h.p. Benz, 350-h.p. V12 Sunbeam single-seater, the fantastic Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bangs, K. Don’s Sunbeams, the Barnato-Hassan, the Bentley-Jackson, the Multi-Union and the Napier-Railton in which the late John Cobb raised the lap record to its ultimate figure of 143.44 m.p.h. But apart from the famous cars and drivers, Boddy brings in all manner of fascinating motor cars that, with the keen characters who built and ran them, represented the very spirit of Brooklands. As you are taken page by page, almost lap by lap, through each race, little-known facts, gleaned by painstaking correspondence with long-forgotten drivers and designers, jostle revived memories of Brooklands’ great and sensational races.

The classic long-distance events such as the J.C.C. 200-Mile Races, B.R.D.C. “500,” Six-Hour Endurance Race, the “Double Twelve,” International Trophy, British Empire Trophy, the Production and Sporting-Car contests, and the British Grands Prix are described in detail, and famous sports cars, many of which are still in existence, are described, so that, “The History of Brooklands Motor Course” covers a great deal of motor-racing history in its 504 pages, each of which measures 9¾ in. by 7½ in., and is by no means confined to outer-circuit cars, obvious as it is that the author has a great affection for those narrow long-tailed single-seaters built purely for Brooklands racing. All the great Brooklands drivers, such as S. F. Edge, Newton, Nazzaro, Percy Lambert, Malcolm Campbell, “Cupid” Hornsted, K. Lee Guinness, Count Zborowski, Gallop, Joyce, S. C. H. Davis, Parry Thomas, W. B. Scott, Kaye Don, Whitney Straight, Mays, Barnato, Oliver Bertram, Chris Staniland, Earl Howe, John Cobb and many, many more, become active again in these vivid, nostalgic pages.

This new book opens with a description of how waste land was converted in less than a year into the first Motor Course the world had seen, and then embarks on a detailed account of the races that took place there, leavened by accounts of narrow escapes, accidents and hilarious incidents, the tragedy and humour inseparable from 28 seasons’ racing. As a record the value of the book is enormously enhanced by the many speeds and lap-times quoted in text and appendices, these being authentic figures from the official B.A.R.C. records.

This monumental history is illustrated by photographic reproductions, many of them exclusive. The printing run of “The History of Brooklands Motor Course,” by William Boddy, will be limited, but copies may be ordered now, price 52s. 6d. post free, from the Grenville Publishing Co., Ltd., 15, City Road, London, E.C.1, or from any good bookseller (trade agent, Horace Marshall). Delay is inadvisable!

Aim For Accuracy

Motor-racing books continue to pour from the presses, as our Book Review pages prove. Sorne are good, a few are excellent, but too many appear to have been written hastily and published with no less haste, as if to catch the wave of demand at its crest. When serious inaccuracies appear in such books the rising generation of enthusiasts is seriously misled and future historians will be misinformed. Consequently, we feel it our duty, not as carping critics but as a guide for prospective purchasers, to point out errors which appear to us when review-reading a book. This upsets sensitive authors, who write letters of protest, even threatening action.

So far we have been able to convince them, and their publishers, of the error of their ways. The most careful of authors commit mistakes at times but accuracy should represent a challenge to writers of motoring history and the farther back they probe the keener that challenge should become.

Having gained the reputation of being something of an authority on all matters apertaining to motor racing at Brooklands, the Editor of Motor Sport, in writing his new history of the famous Motor Course, places himself open to criticism of the kind he has applied to others should his painstaking work contain any serious errors. On this score Boddy is fully aware of the invidious position he occupies but remarks: “I have done all in my power to eradicate technical and historical errors but if any come to light I shall be glad of the correct explanations, because this is the only way in which truth, deep-buried in the past, can be rediscovered.” He has made a very careful revision of his earlier published works about the Track but, asked if his new tome is a complete account of Brooklands’ racing, Boddy replied: “It lists every record established there by four-wheelers and covers almost every race from sprints to 24-hour endurance contests. But there is no end to the material about Brooklands and no one will ever completely exhaust it. Why, a history of the motor-cycle racing and record-breaking that took place there is long overdue.” That’s as may be, but in a book which, as we have said, runs to 300,000 words, with numerous appendices and an index that is a reference work on its own, the author cannot have left much unsaid!

Foreign Touring Number

Foreign travel by car becomes more and more popular each year and 1957 is likely to see the largest number of British tourists on foreign soil. We recently noticed an interesting editorial summary of the Continent, country by country, in Motoring News. This newspaper may be unfamiliar to some readers of Motor Sport but the April issue contains a wealth of useful information such as the prominent places of interest in each country. Channel crossing rates, currency tables, where to apply for additional information and many other useful facts you may need when motoring abroad.

Motoring News caters both for the family motorist and club drivers. It is available from all newsagents and is published on the second Saturday of each month, price 4d.

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