Matters Of Moment, May 1957



The Observer Backs The Pedestrians’ Association

Motorists who number (should we now write “used to number”?) The Observer amongst their Sunday reading will not have failed to notice that this newspaper granted the Pedestrians’ Association for Road Safety prominent publicity on its front page, in its issue of April 14th, devoting considerable space to a lot of arrant nonsense spoken by Dr. A. L. Goodhart, the P.A.’s President.

Dr. Goodhart is reported to have held forth on the theme that speed is the cause of nearly all road accidents, in which he was supported by a police officer, who preferred to remain anonymous. The futility of this doctrine in a mechanical age is so obvious that there is no need to enlarge on it. The P.A.’s anonymous police officer not only dislikes fast cars but thinks that “the decision to raise the speed limit of heavy vehicles was deplorable.” His out-dated thinking is in direct contrast to the views held by another police officer, who does not feel the need to remain anonymous — for the Chief Constable of Essex, Capt. F. R. J.Peel, C.B.E., M.C., B.A., has frequently expressed the view that speed in itself does not cause accidents. As our readers know very well, it is the slow driver incapable of properly controlling a vehicle or speed in the hands of inexperienced drivers that causes almost all the trouble. The A.A., commenting on the Easter traffic, criticised “crown-of-the-road drivers who prevented faster traffic from overtaking and caused much of the congestion” — and congestion, of course, leads to accidents.

One cannot feel antagonism for the Pedestrians’ Association, which presumably had to trump up some sort of argument which would sound convincing to its membership, composed of persons who travel solely on their feet and never ride by car, taxi, omnibus, bicycle or horse-and-cart, and whose safety would be assured if only they walked safely when crossing the road. But we do wish to register surprise that The Observer should put itself on the side of the pedestrian against the motor driver — incidentally, did its Editor first check on the relative importance of the P.A., in terms of membership, and, for instance, the A.A. and R.A.C.?

One classic utterance by the anonymous policeman is worth quoting: “Most drivers,” he said, “were convinced that there was nothing anti-social in driving a vehicle weighing perhaps several tons, within inches of a small child, cyclist or pedestrian.” The answer to this fatuous remark is: how can drivers not drive close to pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles on our hopelessly inadequate roads? But only if drivers of essential transport vehicles refuse to drive on such roads should the term “anti-social” be applied to them.

An M.G. Record Bid

Further to our remarks about the forthcoming attack on Class F records by Stirling Moss (M.G.) on page 214, it is possible to divulge that the car in process of construction at Abingdon will have a supercharged B.M.C. series-B engine mounted amidships behind the driver, MGA-type i.f.s. and de Dion back axle. The body is delightfully described by John Thornley, M.G.’s, General Manager, as a “classical raindrop.” Moss will attempt to beat the present fastest International Class record of 204.2 m.p.h. set up in 1939 at Dessau by Lt.-Col. A. T. G. Gardner with the M.G. record-breaker Ex. 135. He will fly to Utah in August to attack Class F records up to 10 Miles and hopes to reach 240 m.p.h.

Events in May

On May 5th the Bugatti Owners’ Club will hold a National Speed Hill-Climb at the pleasant setting of Prescott Hill, near Cheltenham.

On May 11th, at Goodwood, the B.A.R.C, is organising the first of this year’s Members’ Race Meetings, the results of which count towards the 1957 Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest.

The B.A.R.C. S.W. Centre will hold a closed-to-club speed hill-climb at Brunton, near Andover, on May 12th.

Pau Grand Prix Results

1st. Jean Behra (Masarati) 3 hr. 0 min. 14.7 sec., 101.70 k.p.h.; 2nd. Harry Schell (Maserati); 3rd. Ivor Bueb (Connaught); 4th. Masten Gregory (Maserati); 5th. Les Leston (Connaught). Our Continental Correspondent’s report of this race will appear in next mouth’s issue.

Easter Vacation

Owing to the B.A.R.C. Easter meeting at Goodwood and the B.R.S.C.C. meeting at Brands Hatch taking place after press day, it has been found necessary to print the reports on pages 250 and 251 in the classified section.