Book Review

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” The Salt of the Earth,” by Ab. Jenkins and Wendell J. Aston (Clymer Motors). 1 1/2 dollars.

This little 78-page book is a reprint of the 1939 edition. It tells the story of the Utah salt flats as a record-breaking ground, first investigated for the purpose by Rischel in 1911, using a Packard driven by Johnson. In 1914 Teddy Tezlaff drove the Blitzen Benz there, as part of Ernie Morass’s racing “circus.” A mile at 141.73 m.p.h. was claimed, but not officially recognised.

Ab. Jenkins really “discovered ” the salt beds and commenced record-breaking there in 1932, using a stripped V12 Pierce-Arrow 2-seater, on which he had worked to raise the b.h.p. from 130 to about 175. Jenkins drove the full 24 hours; he dryly remarks that the car was without plumbing! The history continues from this point throughout the record attacks on the salt by Jenkins, Cobb, Eyston and Campbell. As a history the book is interesting and there are many excellent photographs. But we dislike the “Americanese,” in text, captions and emphasis of unimportant detail. To our mind, writing notes and flinging them to the onlookers at 100 m.p.h., shaving at 125 m.p.h. at the end of a 24-hour record run, driving a tractor over the timed mile (Allis-Chalmers tractor; 68 m.p.h.) to gain the title of “world’s fastest farmer,” and delighting in narrow escapes, has no place serious record-breaking. There are many inaccuracies, too. Repeated reference is made to Reed Railton and Davis’s initials are transposed ; The Autocar is described as an “English trade magazine,” which it is not; and it is only partially true to say that Kaye Don and Eyston first gained fame at Montlhèry. Nevertheless, much interesting data is given, but the book is hardly up to the standard of Eyston’s “Speed on Salt.” Some details are included of Jenkins’s Mormon Meteor III, which he hopes will reach 400 m.p.h. with two V12 supercharged Curtis-Wright aviation engines.