ORING SPORTSMEN MOT
V. THE HON. BRIAN LEWIS.
ITHINK it was the famous PanhardLevassor driver, Rene de Knyff, who advised aspirants to a motor-racing career to bear his dictum in mind : “Always finish. You cannot win unless you finish.” As proof of the truth of this aphorism—fools would call it a platitude— the Hon. Brian Lewis is a shining example of a driver who has carried out this profound saying in actual practice. For its obvious result is consistency, and if there is a characteristic of Brian Lewis which marks him out among our drivers, it is his extraordinarily consistent performance in long distance races.
This train of thought was started in my mind by a chance remark he happened to drop as we talked in his comfortable office in Conduit Street.
I had asked him whether he did much motoring in the ordinary course of events, or whether he confined himself to racing.
” At one time I used to drive 100 miles every day,” he replied, ” coming up to Town from the country. I still do a good deal of ordinary motoring now on my Talbot ‘ 105’ saloon.” A pause, then in a matter of fact voice, ” Including journeys to and from events like the Italian 1,000 Miles Race and the Alpine Trial, I have covered 14,000 miles this year in competition work.”
Only one English driver can have a greater mileage to his credit, namely, Earl Howe, but Brian Lewis’s practice .lap and actual race in the Italian 1,000 Miles must give him a good start. But to return to Rene de Knyff’s dictum ; Brian Lewis finished in every long distance race in which he started this year. Verb sat.
Of course, he modestly declared that his always finishing was due to the amazing reliability of the Talbot ” 105,” but I rather think it is the result of a very happy combination of car and driver. The reliability of the Talbot has been one of the phenomena of modern motor racing, and Brian Lewis was full of praise of the car of which he has had. probably more experience than any other driver to-day.
It is really a touring car with a racing performance,” he said ; “for instance, the single seater develops 138 b.h.p., and I did a lap at over 120 m.p.h. during the ‘ 500 ‘,” he said.
“What engine speed do you maintain during a long race ?
” 4,500 r.p.m., but during the Duke of York’s Race at the Guy’s Gala Meeting I did 20 miles at 5,000 r.p.m.”
I asked him whether he noticed the lack of a supercharger when following a ” blown ” car of similar capacity on a winding course.
“No. It’s surprising, really, how little you lose. Last year at Ulster I followed Borzacchini for some time, and he only gained about 300 yards in three laps.”
I could not help thinking how typical it was of the man’s modesty that he forbore from mentioning the fact that this year he beat Borzacchini’s fastest lap in 1931 by a narrow margin. He is most emphatic on the importance of deciding on a definite braking point for every corner on the course, and sticking to it, no matter how great the temptation to scrap with another car right up to the corner. He added : “I personally always have a margin of about 20 yards in hand,
so as to save my brakes, and so that I can increase my lap speed in case of being given the all out’ signal from the pit.”
This naturally led us to the question of pit and team management, and in view of all that has been said and written about the importance of maintaining rigid discipline and tradition, I was very interested to hear the opiniOn of a driver of such extensive experience as Brian Lewis. ” It is very necessary,” he said, ” to get your Mind off the business of cars and racing occasionally before a big race, without interfering with practicing, and Arthur Fox, the Talbot team chief, has a wonderful way of getting the best out of
drivers in this way. He is always thoroughly human, and you could not have a finer manager.
Although. Brian Lewis has primarily been associated with Talbots, our readers will of course remember that he had already made a reputation for himself before he joined the Talbot team. He told me something of his early experiments in search of speed, and it struck me as an interesting contrast to the driver who handles the single seater Talbot at lap speed up to 120 m.p.h. at Brooklands to hear that his first car was an A.V. Monocar ! That was when he was still at school at Malvern, and the cycle-car replaced an early motor bike. Then he went to Cambridge, and acquired one of the first Ruby engiued 1,100 c.c. Frazer Nashes, the “Rodeo Special” with which he competed in sundry Inter-Varsity speed trials and hillclimbs. With a later 1,500 c.c. Frazer Nash he obtained a considerable amount
of experience in reliability trials, entering for most of the M.C.C. runs to Exeter, Lands End, and Edinburgh, and in the J.C.C. High Speed Trials at Brooklands.
Brian Lewis was One of the first owners of a 4-cyl. G.P. Bugatti in England, and he performed so successfully at various hill-climbs up and down the country that he became known to his friends as” Bug” Lewis. His first appearance in a big race at Brooklands, however, was at the wheel of the famous Frazer Nash ” Slug ” racing car in the 1927 200 Miles Race. Throughout the race he was dogged by a persistent lack of oil pressure, but in spite of this he eventually finished fourth. In the 1928 ” 200 ” he drove the same car, and had the distinction of leading at the end of the first lap. After putting in several fast laps at well Over 100 m.p.h., lie was unfortunately forced to retire with a broken oil-pipe. In 1929 Brian Lewis drove a Riley with Harcourt Wood in the ” Double Twelve and shared the driving of W. B. Scott’s Delve in the ” 500,” but his first Continental rake that year, at Le Mans, marked him as a driver to watch, when he and