The Threat to Brooklands.
The prestige of Brooklands, hitherto the premier motor racing track of the world and the favoured venue for decisions in connection with motor races of all kinds, is seriously threatened, if it is not already lost. At the very least it may be said that a crisis is at hand, and that, failing immediate definite action by all the parties concerned, the track, and all the benefits which it confers on motorists and on British motorists in particular, will become second to the new French course. The root cause of the trouble does not lie in the relative merits of the two tracks, good as the new one is reported to be. The British track still has merits which cannot elsewhere be equalled. The trouble comes from outside, and arises from a cause which is endemic, but which has its counterpart in the national attitude towards motorists, all things motoring, and all that appertains to it, that is, so far as legal action may be said to be a true and correct expression of the national will.
The Law and the Motor.
The progress of the motor car in this country has, from the very beginning, been handicapped by repressive legislation. We know of no other industry which is similarly treated. Not only does the law itself seem to be harsh, and in many ways unreasonable, but the method of its administration frequently shows bias. An illuminating side light on the general attitude of those who administer the law and who presumably take their cue from their superiors, was afforded recently, on the occasion of the retirement of a police officer who openly boasted of the large number of convictions which he had registered against motorists.
He realised, he said, when motors first began to come on the roads, that there would be ample opportunity for the exercise of his powers, not as one would have thought, to protect them and their users, but to harass and persecute them. He studied the law on this matter, therefore, most carefully, with the result that he was able to surpass his fellows in the skill with which he harassed the motorist.
If, as we may justly assume, his actions were but a reflection of the views of his superiors, then they clearly regarded the motorist, not as a law-abiding citizen, over whose interests the Police should watch, but as one to be continually hunted and harassed, so long as he was on the road.
That the same spirit still persists is evidenced bv the attitude of the authority towards the frequently repeated proposal to run road races in this country. British manufacturers of motor cars have been handicapped in international competition, because, again and again, many times a year, the attention of the whole motorifkg world is focussed on those continental nations which are able to stage such events. In this country there is no equivalent of the French Grand Prix, and we suffer accordingly.
Brooklands as against a “Grand Prix.”
Hitherto, however, we have had Brooklands, which has, up to now, been our salvation in this matter. It ig true that, of late, even Brooklands has felt, one after another, the cumulative effects of local action, as, for example in respect of the ban on night running—which has made it impossible to conduct continuous runs of more than twelve hours duration, and in the restriction of noise. The Brooklands authorities have submitted to these restrictions—endured, perhaps, would be the better word—probably for the sake of peace, and also because, at the time when they came into
being, they did not seem so important. The ban on noise has been even hailed in some quarters as beneficial, as tending to improve both cars and motor cycles, and particularly the latter, in respect of their silencing equipment. To these restrictions, however, there would seem to be no limit.
As we write, an action is pending between the residents of Weybridge and district on the one hand, and the proprietors Of Brooklands on the other, concerning this very matter, and we urgently recommend all motorists and motoring bodies, either sporting, social or trade, to rally round in support of the track. It is important too, that in this matter our aim should be, not merely to prevent further restrictions, but to have the existing ones removed.
Our Brooklands to be Ousted by the French One.
here would have been occasion for this direct interest on the part of sporting motorists in any event, for the restrictions at the very least are irritating. They have now, however, become of vital and first importance in view of the opening of the new French track. It is common knowledge in the trade that the Comte de Janze, Director of the concern which is responsible for the French ” Brooklands,” has been visiting leading manufacturers of sporting and racing cars in this country with a view to persuading them to make use of the track, and his chief argument—one might almost say, his only argument, has been that there will be no restrictions. If he is generally successful, the results may be very serious. France already possesses the distinction conferred by the running of the Grand Prix. We in Brooklands have hitherto had a course on which record creating runs could be run, notwithstanding the restrictions. Now the mere elimination of the silencer rule, in force at Brooklands, will enable cars such as the Darracqs which competed so successfully in the two hundred miles race to increase their speed by at least 5 m.p.h.
Consequently, a manufacturer who desires to demonstrate to the world at large the maximum speeds of which his car is capable, and who has to decide between Brooklands and Montlhery, is not long in doubt as to. his choice. In the former case he knows that he will have to fit a silencer of certain dimensions and having a known effect on the power of his engine ; he will lose 5 per cent, of his speed. If he goes to France no such restrictions will exist, and he may very well find it possible to increase his maximum speed by upwards of 5 m.p.h. This is not free choice ; it is, by the very nature of things, compulsion—in the favour of the French track. Hence the need for energetic action, along the lines we have indicated.