Graduates from Two Wheels

Graduates from Two Wheels

Sir,

The days when a top racing motorcyclist could switch to four wheels and slot straight into the front ranks of a Grand Prix grid belong to the past. Mike Hailwood, who is the subject of an article in your September issue, might well have progressed further on four wheels had he sacrificed the years spent on two.

It was not always so, right up to the second World War some of the truly outstanding racing drivers had graduated from two wheels. The Italians were particularly keen on this progression: Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi and Luigi Arcangeli had all won motorcycle classics in the twenties and became works drivers, Arcangeli unhappily being killed at Monza in 1931, the other two becoming even more successful with cars than they had been with bikes. Then in the thirties Piero Taruffi, Giordano Aldrighetti, Dorino Serafini and Alberto Ascari made their names as works riders. Aldrighetti was killed in 1939 at Pescara but the other three were works drivers in the post-war years, Ascari becoming one of the most successful of all Italian drivers.

Similarly in Germany Rudolf Caracciola had a smattering of motorcycle racing in his early years and his Mercedes-Benz teammate, Hermann Lang, had been sidecar champion of Germany. The rival Auto-Union team, whose racing experience prior to 1934 was gained with DKW motorcycles, drew strongly from the ranks of motorcyclists. Besides Varzi and Nuvolari, on whom they relied heavily at the beginning and end of their era, they recruited Bernd Rosemeyer, Hermann Muller and Georg Meier direct from international motorcycle racing and Pitched them into GP motor racing without any intermediate stages. Rosemeyer, who had been a great all-rounder as a competition motorcyclist, was surely the only roan to completely master the 16-cylinder AutoUnion. As for the other two they notched UP 1st and 2nd places in the GP of the ACF at Reims in 1939 in the 12-cylinder, 3-litre cars. In this country we were not so GP-orientated then as now, our Grande Epreuve being the RAC Tourist Trophy. In this classic series the names of Caracciola, Nuvolari and Varzi featured prominently and the list of winners included three other former racing motorcyclists, namely: Norman Black,

Freddie Dixon and Charlie Dodson, until it began to look as though motorcycle experience was a prerequisite of success. !Still the aame today in its watered-down saloon car form, apparently. Former motorcycle racer Stuart Graham has just won the Ti' for the second consecutive year.—Ed. l. Although the French have not 'produced so many big names in international motorcycle racing, hvo of them, Jean Behra and Jean Pierre /3eltoise, made their mark in Formula One since the war.

Johnny Cecotto of Venezuela has just won his first motorcycle World Championship at the age of 19. Perhaps he has the time and the talent to switch to cars and make it to the top. London W3 JOHN DEACON