(AYE DON THE MAN
BY J. WENTWORTH DAY. pOSSESSED of a speed demon at an early age, Kaye Don has created a special niche for himself as the only man in the world to exceed 120 m.p.h. on land, air and water. Starting with reliability trials before the war, and the Air Force during the Great Unpleasantness, he returned to trials (unfortunately termed ” reliability races ” by the author), thence by way of the famous A.C. and Deemster cars to big things on Brooklands with his stable of Sunbeams. Who does not remember the terrific Gold Star race of 1927, won at 118 m.p.h., the great matchrace next year with Jack Dunfee on the Ballot, won by a quarter of a length at 114; the Gold Vase of 1928 and the Gold Star Race of 1929, in which_ he put up a lap of 134.24 m.p.h. ? On the road of course, he won the first Ulster T.T. on the Lea Francis, and in 1930 had the spectacular pile-up on the Alfa, in which eight ribs and a collar-bone were broken, and the driver narrowly escaped being burnt to death ; while during that same year he took the ill-fated Silver Bullet to Daytona. All these exploits are dealt with in the biography, though to the
critically minded reader comes a conviction that the author’s experience of motor racing has been gained largely by reading the more spectacular newspaper reports of the time. Happily he is more sound when it comas to the motor-boating side of Don’s career, and one reads with interest of the trials of Miss England II, and the difficulties which her helmsman had in setting up the record of 100.9 m.p.h. on the logstrewn water of the Parana River. Then the D’Annunzio Cup on Lake Garda, gained with considerable difficulty, not the least of them being the eccentric poet himself ; and the Harmsworth Trophy in America, in which Don won the first heat, but was swamped in the second by the wash of Gar Wood’s craft. The second and less successful visit the following year with Miss England HI, following its great record-breaking run at Loch Lomond, was, of course, a great disappointment ; but the student of ” ballyhoo ” will find much entertainment in the description of the methods of the American pressmen. In an addenda to the book Don gives a full description of the later boat, and when
one considers the amount of money and work which Lord Wakefield must have expended in trying to win back the Harrnsworth Trophy for Britain, any praise on this score seems inadequate.
The book proper concludes with a chapter on Kaye Don’s accident in the Isle of Man, and the subsequent trial for manslaughter, and in this the author indulges in what can only be called ridiculous and prejudiced nonsense, based on his ignorance of motor racing and the Island itself. It is sufficient to quote the reason he gives for the promotion of the Mannin Races. “The Manxman . . . . like the Latin . . . . is fully aware of the money-drawing capabilities of a butcher’s holiday.”
Happily Don’s career of speed is of sufficient interest to make one overlook the annoying inaccuracies which occur in the car-racing descriptions, while much of the information about Miss England II and III will be new to the majority of readers ; the photographs of these craft in action add to the book’s interest. ” Kaye Don ” is published by Messrs. Hutchinson and costs .7.s. 6d.