The Kaye Don Case.
THERE seems to have been a good deal of muddled thinking and unnecessary fuss about Kaye Don’s
manslaughter case in the Isle of Man ; the appeal against the original sentence of four months’ imprisonment, which was heard last month, was, as everyone knows, unsuccessful. To take a parallel case, if someone were involved in an accident on the Portsmouth Road when driving a Brooklands track car under circumstances which the court held as negligent, it can scarcely be held that the decision or sentence would have been more favourable ; while if a driver has an accident abroad, in Italy for instance, even when practising for such a race as the Mille Miglia, the car and the driver are at once imprisoned and dealt with pretty drastically.
It would be more fitting to confine one’s emotions to sympathy for Don in having made an error of judgment and being involved in circumstances which may happen to anyone who drives a fast car on a public highway. Anyhow he is assured of everyone’s wishes for restored health—he was badly shaken by the accident—and a hearty welcome when he returns from his present uncongenial quarters.
At the Big Jamboree.
Turning to more cheerful topics, what did you think of the Show ? Speaking for myself, I had half-hoped to find some more sports cars with independent springing, but such eve-of-the-Show surprises don’t seem to happen nowadays. However, I was partly appeased on inspecting the improved lay-out on the re-designed Speed Twenty Alvis, and hope soon to test for myself its roadlevelling properties.
Meanwhile, undeterred by our Guardian Angel of Transport (symbol—a turnip balanced on a barber’s pole) two more firms have had the courage to produce supercharged 100 m.p.h. motor-cars, these being, of course, the Triumph Dolomite, round the polished chassis of which worshippers bent in reverence, and the businesslike Shelsley Frazer Nash ; both these cars are described in this issue.
Meet the Squire. I did not get a chance to try either of these machines, but was lucky enough to meet Mr. Squire, designer of the
interesting car described last month. Just as I was— luckily I had left my white spats at home—he led me to the car-park, where the car had been left all the morning, and with a touch of the button the dynamotor set the engine into life. We pulled out without spluttering into the crowded traffic of Hammersmith Road, where I took over and drove this spirited little car as far as Roehampton Lane. It was a novel sensation, with a car of this engine capacity, to chug along on top gear like a ” 30-98 ” while, if you used third or second—Oh Boy !
The car was by no means noisy, but Mr. Squire told me that the Burgess people are making him a special silencing system with one large and one small unit, tuned to deal with the two resonant periods which are encountered with almost all four-cylinder engines.
At Olympia there were trade representatives, prospective buyers, and pressmen from nearly every country on the globe, but the most interesting person I met, from a sporting point of view, was Herr Alfred Neubauer, the manager of the Mercedes-Benz racing team. I naturally tackled him to find out who had been chosen to drive the cars next year. Caracciola, Fagioli and Brauchitsch are the lucky three. Brauchitsch, of course, was injured when practising for the German Grand Prix, and one of his eyes gave him some trouble, but after treatment in a clinic at Davos, in Switzerland, he tells Neubauer he will be fit in a week or two.
Chiron and Nuvolari.
There have been persistent rumours either or both these “aces of the wheel” would next year be making a move to the Mercedes camp, but I was assured that absolutely nothing had been fixed up, though I thought Herr Neubauer sounded slightly as though he favoured the Italian, if anything were to be done about it. The position is that the Nazi authorities quite naturally want to train German drivers to handle their national cars, and so are rather adverse to letting these super-vehicles getting into too many foreign hands. At one time there was a scheme to run Auto Union and Mercedes as one national team, but the team-managers convinced the theorists that the proposition was unworkable.
The factory has now decided not to sell the cars to private individuals. The price, in any case, would have been something staggering, well over £10,000; while apart from the objection to selling them abroad, the team personnel find that private owners have a habit of coming along at the least opportune moment and asking to borrow a set of sparking plugs, a cylinder block or a back axle.
As a connoisseur of motor car catalogues, I have always greatly admired the lay-out and the coloured illustrations which decorate the Mercedes productions. Herr Seher, who is responsible for compiling these striking publications, was also over for the Show, and we discussed the difficulties of choosing suitable type. He told me that he had exhausted all the founts which the German printers could show him, and is now determined to get something on the lines of that used by Messrs. Rolls-Royce. This will be an unexpected feather in the cap of Mr. Millard Buckley, who is responsible for the Rolls-Royce and Bentley literature.
Dr. Porsche was another visitor to the Show, but I did not get a chance of waylaying him. He was greatly interested in the performance of the E.R.A., which, with its two litres of capacity, made a quick raid on the World’s Standing Kilometre, only to be displaced a few days later by the five litres of the Auto Union.
Pity the Poor ” Independent ” !
The upheaval created in the racing world by the arrival of the Monoposto Alfas is nothing to that brought about by the fast German cars, and the unfortunate amateur who is controlling his Maserati with teeth and toe-nails, at an exciting 140 or so, is liable nowaday to find himself being passed by an Auto-Union running a Comfortable 40 m.p.h. faster. I was talking this over with M. Robert Brunet, one of the best-known of French ” “
R. Brunet. ” independent ” drivers, and he told me that he found himself, owing to a lack of suitable cars, rather puzzled to know what to do for next season. He is, incidentally, selling his double-camshaft 2.3-litre G.P. Bugatti, which was new at the beginning of the season, and wants 50,000 francs (about £770) for it, complete with a good number of spares, so if anyone wants to buy it and do some fast motoring in England I can give them his address. The
amateur position abroad is not made any easier now that the petrol companies have settled their differences, and apart from this, they are well aware that, barring miracles, the factory teams are bound to romp home first.
Vive la France !
The public subscription started to finance a team of French racing cars has aroused much interest and some financial support, and if a substantial sum is raised will, presumably, be given mostly to the Bugatti factory mostly with a prospect of some for Delage. The Sefac, the special car which was entered for the French Grand Prix, and which has two blocks of four cylinders geared together, with a total capacity of 2.3-litre, remains in a half-built condition and seems likely to stay so.
I liked Monsieur Brunet’s account of the Morocco Rally in which he drove a French straight-eight Talbot. Starting from Rome, unaccompanied by a passenger, he drove single-handed to the Riviera, then via Avignon and Lyons to Bordeaux, thence right down through Spain to Gibraltar. Determined not to be passed the whole way he drove for three days with only five hours’ sleep, and succeeded in keeping in front of Friederich on a Bugatti, who is still no mean driver though no longer at the wheel of a Grand Prix car.
All went well in Morocco until within about three hours of the finish, where he collided with a pile of stones spread across the roadway by the local Arabs, who don’t like motor-cars, and smashed the crank-case. After such a catastrophe I should have felt like shooting myself, or the Arabs or-both, but apparently there were about 30 natives, which would have been overwhelming odds ! This sort of thing just whets his appetite for more, and he is looking forward to taking part in the Monte Carlo classic.
Whitney Straight’s Plans.
On learning that Straight had decided to dispose of his stable of Maseratis, I thought at first that he had decided to give up racing altogether, but happily this is not so. He found, however, that the business of running a Continental racing team from England was almost impossible, even going abroad as much as he did, so next year he proposes to return to racing on his own again.
“The Auto-Unions are so much faster than anything else,” he told me. ” You simply have to put your foot down on the straights and the car does the rest.” If the cars are to be sold to drivers outside the team he has been promised the first one, and is naturally waiting anxiously to hear whether the Leader’s decree is favourable. The only car he has definitely ordered is a 13-litre twelve-cylinder Hispano-Suiza, which is guaranteed to do 125 m.p.h. with a closed body. After seeing the nine-litre car belonging to Count Trossi, which only weighs 28 cwt., he feels that the larger one should also give a good account of itself, and will probably drive it at Le Mans and Ulster. Meanwhile, as these notes go to print he will be taking part in the last race of the year, the Algiers Grand Prix.
To the Ends of the Earth. The Monte Carlo Rally is once more becoming a topic of conversation, and it is generally agreed that much of
the attraction has been lost through not retaining the high marking of the Athens route. The British Rally Club went so far as to write to Monte Carlo about it, but were told that the committee did not again want all the high places to go to drivers from the Greek starting point. No reason was given, and any normal person would think that drivers clever enough to traverse the Balkans in winter were deserving of every encouragement. In spite of this Rupert Riley is quite likely to start from there again, and I should think the new 1,500 c.c. Riley would do the job very nicely.
Umea will probably be the most popular point of departure, and I hear that Hole and Minshall on Singers, the Montague Johnsons on their Triumph, and Ribeira Ferrera on a Rai1ton Terraplane, have already decided to go from there. Healey may also go from Sweden on the Triumph Dolomite if he can spare the time. Norman Black is taking a Singer from Tallinn ; Barnes and Whalley are again faithful to Stavanger, and I heard that the latter is thinking of supercharging his Ford for the acceleration test !
There seem good prospects of support from abroad, and I understand that Mercedes official cars are being sent to most points.
The T.O.C. and the M.G.C.C.
The club dinner season is now upon us, and I notice a subtle difference in atmosphere between those organised by what one may term the “General Sporting” type and those of the One Make” clubs. The diners who come to the latter type of gathering seem to be better acquainted, and to have more in common than they want to discuss, but I think that even the committee were agreeably surprised when over 200 guests were present at the first dinner of the Talbot Owners’ Club, which was held at the Dorchester Hotel last month.
The M.G. dinner has no” become quite an institution, and Lord Nuffield managed to escape for a little while from the press of public engagements to preside at this year’s function, held once again at the Park Lane Hotel. The speeches and prizegiving were much enlivened by Mr Kimber’s ” spoof ” prizes to the guests from rival clubs, a toy sewing machine to F. S. Barnes, a picture of Quarry Corner with the air full of Rileys to Rupert Riley, and for Healey a picture of “Don plus Gloria in the Alps,” otherwise a reproduction of the amusing Pratt’s advertisement of Gordon Harker and Nellie Wallace. Dancing and a cabaret show rounded off an enjoyable evening.
Reviews, August 2008
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