My ‘Year’s Racing”
KAY’ F DON.
IT has been a wonderful season for motor racing. One I cannot call it a revival of the sport, for the popu
larity which it at present enjoys transcends anything which went before it. Brooklands has been better attended than in previous years, and there have been two big road races in Ireland. Add to these events the attempts on record which have been made, and we discover a season as full of sport as a ripe orange is full of juice.
• To those of us who crowd the miles into minutes, motor racing has a thrill which does not reach the mere spectator, however he may be enthralled by incidents and episodes. To us, every minute is full of excitement ; every mile is an adventure.
When the season opened, I felt that the going would be very good for me. I had ” The Tiger,” fastest of all track cars, I had “The Cub,” a smaller but equally efficient Brooklands job, and I had a choice of cars for the two big road races in Ireland. No man ever started a racing season better equipped so far as tangibilities are concerned. But the best of cars is of no avail against the frowns of Dame Fortune, for unless you bask in the smiles of the Fickle Goddess you cannot achieve major successes. It is a pity that we cannot harness that dictum of the idealists “Equality of Opportunity.” But is it ? Would life, or any department of it, be so entertaining if the element of luck were not pronounced ? I think not. I was disappointed in the two road races this year, for in each case I found myself beaten at relatively early stages. I do not regard this as bad luck, since it is very rare that half the field finishes in such an event ; and if you are among the survivors, well, you must have had the luck. It is all part of the game. It is no
good having the fastest car in a race if that car cannot withstand the strain for the whole distance. I have often heard it cited as evidence of bad luck when a man is beaten in the last lap of a road race, but is it not rather that the car has failed to rise to the occasion ?
The motor racing man must be philosophical, and I think that he is. Also, he is an excellent sportsman who can, as a rule, lose as gracefully as he can win. It is always somebody’s turn, and we are all content to take ours, though, of course, it is up to each of us, to hurry along our turn by. sound organisation and by the greatest effort of which we are capable. Racing cars are not so fickle as horses, but, in the racing game, they are not nor can they be expected to be, as reliable as touring jobs.
But if I failed to secure either of the Irish plums I certainly tasted the fruits of the chase. While it lastcd the racing was very good, as it always must be. None of us could achieve greatly unless we enthused.
It is one thing to have the will to win, but it is even better to have a heart for the sport, and I think I can say that I am never happier than when I am in the seat of a racing car and the engine has just leaped into the pulsating, roaring life which lies at my command.
On the Track.
On the track I have been more fortunate. The Tiger has served me well. The track record is mine, many of the chief races have come to me, and I must write ” content” over my log of the year for Brooklands. It is usually my lot to be on the scratch mark, which is as it should be considering that the Tiger has the heels—or should I say the wheels—of any other track car. And how I enjoy those terrific pursuits round the
concrete track. How the landmarks leap at you as you give her full bore. There is that wide sweeping turn from the railway straight to the fork, with the tiny bridge at the Byfleet end and the ” matey-ness ” of the people who, wise enough to have found the best vantage point round the track, fill the narrow span. There is the Members’ Banking, just after which one may tread on the gas again to get every ounce of speed on the straight. There is the thrill of passing car after car until, with journey’s end looming close, you know that there is but one competitor ahead of you.
Can you do it ? The answer is in doubt. The finishing line seems to be getting very close, and then—you swoop down from the banking to the straight to discover yourself on the tail of your rival. The Tiger has roared its way to the front again and you have won. But sometimes you have had to beat the record for the track in order to win the race.
It is not always easy. A strong wind plays havoc with your chances, for, believe me, it is a fight between muscles and mechanics when there is a lot of wind. about.
Yes, the game is well worth while, quite apart from your triumphs. I think that of all my performances during the present season, the palm must go to my successful attempt on the standing start record for a mile. Again it was the Tiger which took me to victory and enabled me to claim the land speed record from a standing start. My speed was over the 100 miles an hour, and to really appreciate what this means, let me put it to you as spectacularly
as I can. Imagine that you are at rest in your car and that another car flashes by you at a hundred miles an hour. You get going and in less than a mile you have caught and passed the other vehicle.
That is what you have to do to beat 100 miles an hour for a standing start mile. During the season I have beaten a number of records, and I suppose I have had my share of the races, but I think that my mile record must be accepted as the highest achievement of all.
And now, there is the future to be considered, with my highest adventure close ahead. Early next year I go to the United States to defend the land speed record at Daytona. A wonder-car has been built for me, and I am well pleased with the way it is shaping. I am looking forward with great eagerness to that little dash on the Daytona Beach. And of course I am confident. I think that I shall walk in the footsteps of Segrave and Campbell, who already have shown the Americans what British engineering and British driving is capable of achieving.
Sir Henry Segrave has given me a he-man’s job to undertake, and he has discussed with me the problems and the difficulties attaching to the attempt. I do not know whether there is basic foundation for the rumour that the Americans are to make a more serious attempt to win the record than they have ever before organised, but I hope so.
I think that we shall be able to score over them.