Motoring Sportsmen



Motoring Sportsmen by the Editor-1

No. 4. Raymond Mays. pp AYMOND MAYS’ interest in motoring sport corn

menced as soon as he was old enough to take an interest in anything. It must have been so, because he can remember being very keen on motor races when he was six years old, and that is merely as far back as his memory carries him : the interest is older than the memory. A variety of causes intervened, however, to prevent him from getting hold of a really speedy mount at that time, while later on, when a suitable opportunity might have come along, another vexatious delay was brought about by the War, and, as a matter of fact, it was not until 1921 or thereabouts, whilst he was at Cambridge, that he owned his first car, ..a sports Riley, and began that abrilliant career in the midst of which we now find him. The Riley was a good mount when he first took hold of it. Its speed capacity was round about fifty or sixty miles per hour. With the expenditure of a little well-directed labour by Mr. Mays, supplemented by the more experienced aid of Messrs. Kensington Moir and W. M. Thomas, the performance of the Riley was improved to a notable extent, until its speed verged on eighty miles per hour. It was shortly after this that Mr. Mays witnessed the sparkling performance of the Bugattis in the 200-mile races, and forthwith decided that a car of that type should be his in the near future. And so it catne to pass. The Bugatti, an 11.9 h.p. with a cylinder capacity just short of 1,500 c.c., was a standard model, bought in the ordinary way. It was after it had passed into the hands of its present owner that it began in numerous particulars, small at first, and more important as time went on, to depart from that standard. The importance and effectiveness of the aggregate result of all these modifications is indicated by the significant fact that while the speed of the car on third gear was in its early stages 54 miles an hour, it eventually became capable of 84 miles per hour on that same gear, and the engine of Mr. Mays’ present Bugatti is capable of maintaining a rotative speed of no fewer than 6,700 r.p. m. 1 Raymond Mays’ career, from the early days of 1921 to the present time, has been one uninterrupted procession of successes, and a perusal of the records of hill

climbs and speed events during that period bears monotonous testimony to his consistently good work. The frequent reiteration of the phrase “Mr. Raymond Mays made the fastest time of the day and established a new record for the hill” actually palls long before the end is reached, and after all, he has only just begun.

Amongst these many successes which stand to his name, the following are of special interest. Dean Hill : fastest time of the day. Spreadeagle, competing with cars of twice the engine size : fastest time of the day and record broken. Saltersford : record broken. South Harting, Holme Moss and Aston Hill : record. Porthcawl : fastest time of the day. Saltburn : fastest time, and so on. In four years his total of important awards has passed the 250 mark. When on the road, or more particularly when taking part in a speed event or a hill climb, Mays’ performance is invariably that of the perfect artist in his line. He is always cool and collected, but particularly so in the face of seeming inevitable catastrophe, as when, for example, his car shed a rear wheel while travelling at 6o miles per hour ascending Caerphilly Hill, or again, quite recently, when topping Holme Moss at 75 miles an hour, his accelerator pedal jammed at the same time as his clutch pedal, and he was faced with the alternatives either of dashing into the midst of a crowd at this speed, or turning his car up the banking and stopping it in that way. He has sufficient rapidity of thought and action to be able, for example, to avoid inflicting more than a minimum of damage upon his engine in such circumstances as occurred once at Saltburn Sands, when a

connecting rod broke and he was able to draw up without any further damage occurring.

His methods most strongly emphasise the universal application of the principle that, to be supremely successful in any branch of sport, hard work and enthusiasm are absolutely essential. That he is enthusiastic none who have seen him on any of these sporting occasions can doubt. Few, however, will realise that each hill climb is the culmination of a week of strenuous toil which commences the morning after the conclusion of one such event when, on reaching his home at Bourne, Lincolnshire, his two cars are taken completely apart, every detail being thoroughly examined, overhauled, and trued or tuned up wherever such truing or tuning is necessary, the work rarely being completed with time to spare before it is time to set out for the venue of the next event.

Apart from his very effective notions of the essential features of the engine for a sports car and of the chassis modifications which are desirable for success in hill climbs, Mr. Mays has certain ideas of his own relating to the most suitable type of body for a car of this type, and particularly when it is intended that it shall be used to any considerable extent for participation in hill climbs. Complete freedom for his elbows so that his right hand can be put outside the car to the hand brake lever, and as quickly withdrawn to the steering wheel, is one essential. Mr. Mays likes to sit on a car rather than in it, and is not comfortable unless he can see, not merely the front wheels of the car he is driving, but the steering pivots.

Asked as to his ambitions, Mr. Mays tells us he fully intends to win the Grand Prix. Incidentally, he is strongly of opinion that no better practice for this event can be obtained than is available in the course of the hill climb events at which he is such a star performer. It is significant to note that, in his opinion, and in this he is supported by Mr. Segrave, the speed of cornering during a Grand Prix is mild by comparison to that which takes place in the course of a short hill climb. That it must be so, will be apparent on the briefest consideration, for it should be realised that, if the corners in the course of a long race like the Grand Prix were taken after the fashion which is familiar in our hill climbs incessant trouble with tyres would ensue.

Asked as to his plans for the immediate future, Mr. Mays tells us that these are at present somewhat in the air. Hitherto he has, as all our readers are no doubt aware, performed purely as an amateur. This he finds involves a very heavy drain on his private purse, and we should not be at all surprised to learn, in the near future, that Mr. Mays has come to terms with one or other of the leading manufacturers to drive cars of a specific make. That the firm who acquire his services will reap a very considerable benefit, in more senses than one, we have no doubt whatever.