A RECORD WE DON’T LIKE
IAST month there was keen competition for the d Ladies’ Lap Record of Brooklands track. First of all Mrs. K. Petre beat Mrs. T. H. Wisdom’s old record of 122 m.p.h. by covering a lap at 124 m.p.h., only to lose it again to the previous holder who clocked a circuit at 126.73 m.p.h. Then Mrs. Petre went out again and raised the record to 129.58 m.p.h. One cannot fail to admire the courage and skill of these lady-drivers, who can lap a difficult circuit like Brooklands at well over 120 m.p.h., but it seems a pity that the performance must be regarded as a record and not as a standard of driving.
Without wishing to disparage the achievement, of last month, we are inclined to think that a scramble for the Ladies’ Lap Record may easily be contrary to the interests of motor-racing. Especially is this so when the practice of borrowing fast cars is resorted to. In order to lap Brooklands with any degree of safety at over 125 m.p.h., an intimate knowledge of the car as well as the track is required, knowledge that can seldom be acquired at short notice. We are staunch supporters of record-breaking when it has some bearing on the -development of motor-cars. In these circumstances the element of danger is worth risking. But the Ladies’ Lap record has no such scientific value, for the speeds recorded do not represent the fastest figures the car can attain. It is purely a personal affair. No limit is placed on engine size or class, and there is nothing to prevent the whole business from degenerating into a struggle to borrow the
fastest car. Tile end to this can easily be a fatal accident, and a Brooklands fatality involving a woman is thr last thing we want. There is quite enough public prejudice against speed and motor-racing without fanning it by a senseless fight for a valueless record.
The only motoring records necessary are the existing World’s, International Class, and lap records, open to the fastest cars of various sizes. It is not unfair to expect women to compete for these records on a level footing with men. Mrs. Gwenda Stewart has proved that a woman can drive a car just as fast, if not faster, than a man. It is not going to be easy to stop the course of events now. It is obviously more than one can reasonably expect that either of the two claimants to the title should desist when they have been deprived of the record. The popular inferences of such a withdrawal are too powerful. Once pledged to the struggle there can be no honourable turning back until the lap record
proper.of the track has been reached by borrowing faster and faster cars, or a slight misjudgment brings the attempt of one driver at least to an abrupt end.
Even if the record were no longer countenanced by the Brooklands authorities, it would still flourish unofficially. One can only regret that it was ever initiated, and hope that the participants in the scramble will continue to exercise the greatest caution in order to avoid an accident which would be a great blow to the sport.