THE EVOLUTION OF A CHAMPION.
Some Interesting Sidelights on a Famous Motor Cyclist’s Career. By SID MORAM.
Mr. Moram was for several years associated with Mr. Herbert le Vack, in whose racing engines he took a considerable practical interest.
a lad I worked at a local bicycle
shop at Tottenham. While there I got to know Herbert le Vack, who may now be regarded as the world’s champion motor cyclist. At that time le Vack was working at the Motorsacoche factory, where, subsequently, I got a job. Incidentally, I remember that on the occasion of my going to see Mr. de Lissa to get this job, I considered it essential to know how to spell ” Motorsacoche ” correctly, and for this purpose I purchased a copy of The Motor Cycle on the way
there, only to find that the word I sought did not occur once throughout that particular issue ! (Did you look in the” small advts.? “—Editor).
While at the Motorsacoche works le Vack and I prepared one or two trials machines, and spent a considerable time on a special ‘bus which he was to have ridden in the Grand Prix of 1914—which was cancelled owing to the outbreak of war. During the war I was in charge of Royal Air Force workshops in France until 1918, but I kept constantly in touch with le Vack who was on A.I.D. work at Wolseleys and elsewhere. (Does everybody remember that A .I .D. stands for Aeronautical Inspection Department ? If not, we think it just as well to say so, because A .I .D. really had no association with help. At least, so some firms told us when we were on A. I. D. —
— Editor). When I came out of the army, I opened a garage at Tottenham, with the assistance of my father on the financial
side. Le Vack came in on a sort of partnership basis. One day there came to the garage an Edmund
spring frame. Into this we fitted a M.A.G. engine, and it was on this machine that le Vack scored his first postbellum successes—chiefly at the Southend Speed Trials, run by the Essex Club, and at Luton. Up to this time the garage had only been run as a makeshift until something better should come along. Then the Duzmo came along, and le Vack and I both went there full of hopes. We worked almost day and night for many months, and then our arduous efforts were rewarded his a veritable
were a crop of Firsts at the Liverpool Speed Trials of 1920. This was the real beginning of the Duzmo so far as we were concerned. As a matter of passing interest, this machine had very exceptional powers of acceleration, so much so in fact, that I remember going head over heels when pushing off le Vack at this meeting.
Then there came another period of feverish activity in preparing for the T.T., to which we eventually took the one and only speed Duzmo in existence, and the firm had to close down until our return, as it had been necessary for us to borrow all the tools and spares to take to the Island ! The old Edmund was taken over as a hack bike, and for several successive practicemornings it came in handy for towing back le Vack on the Duzmo, which was exceedingly fast, but had little endurance. Eventually, after more nocturnal attentions, the Duzmo qualified, and on the day of the race it was well up and in the run ning for a win when a
piston went. This was the end of the
Duzmo so far as we were concerned. Next I went back to Godfrey’s, where I had been for about six months before going to the Duzmo,
and le Vack went to Indians. Whilst at Godfrey’s I used frequently to go round to Indians to assist le Vack, and I also helped Tudor Thompson to tune up the Douglas on which he took sidecar records, which stood right up to last August. Then le Vack and I found ourselves back at Tottenham, this time at the J.A.P. factory, where we spent the
whole of our time on experimental work and racing. During the first month we were busy preparing for the T.T., when the first J.A.P. camshaft engine was designed and made. This engine, without any preliminary braketests or running-in, lapped Brooklands at 68 m.p.h., which actually beat the then established record for one hour.
In that year’s T.T. le Vack made the fastest lap of the course and led the field right up to about a lap and a quarter before the finish, when. he was obliged to stop with gear trouble. The same year he looked like winning the Senior race, but just before Crosby on, I think, his last lap, he again suffered ill-luck, this time owing to the breakage of his magneto platform.
After that we got busy preparing for the zoo-mile race at Brooklands, which le Vack had won the previous year on an Indian. This race, however, was eventually cancelled on account of the local residents objecting to the noise inevitably caused. Then followed a string of successes at Brooklands, including numerous records, which culminated at the Championship Meeting, when le Vack won the majority of the races run.
The following year he rode into second place in the r.T., and won, in one day, the two 200 miles races at Brooklands in addition to many other successes and records.
The big machine which won the L000 c.c, in the second of these 200 miles races was built entirely in three days and nights by another mechanic and myself, while le Vack was practising with the other machine on the track. It had only done three trial laps prior to starting in and winning this race, without a single stop other than for tank replenishment. Our next ” stunt ” was in France, where le Vack took the 350 c.c. kilo records for both solo and sidecar.
Shortly after this I left J.A.P.’s and so my racing connection with le Vack was severed ; but I often look back on these days (and nights) as the most strenuous, but at the same time infinitely the most interesting ones of my life.
There is just one point I should like to stress, and that is that the iacing we were concerned in was never entered into with a view to a win, but almost in every case for the purpose of testing out some modification of design or construction, and generally with the definite object of attempting to “improve the breed.”
NORTH WALES ROADS—A PROTEST.
Major E. A. P. Brooke, Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of the Automobile Club of North Wales, addressed the following letter to the Ministry of Transport, the Board of Trade, all County Councils in North Wales, and the Press on nth of last month :
“The Committee of the Automobile Club of North Wales wish to urgently point out that the roads in North Wales are absolutely unfit for the amount and character of motor traffic passing over them, being unfit in width, unfit in surface and unfit in boundaries, and that so far there is no information of any appreciative action being taken to put the roads of North Wales into proper and suitable condition for present day traffic, and further that the constant stream of enormous char-a-bancs on roads with continual bends and with a width of under 16 ft. is a great danger to pedestrians as well as motor car and other traffic, one example of this being the Glan-Conway to Bettws-y-coed road.’
So far, the Automobile Club of North Wales tells us, it sees no reason to change its opinion with regard to any appreciative attempt being made to improve the condition of the roads in North Wales. Meantime the traffic has enormously increased, and the conditions are therefore generally much worse. Cannot something be done, the Club asks, to rouse the varied bodies concerned from their lethargic condition ?
RACING CARS’ IGNITION.
In our last issue, reference was made to the well known racing car” Larubia I.” which, it was stated, was fitted with magneto ignition. The car is, in fact, equipped with the Delco-Remy ignition, which, as most sporting motorists know, is an efficient alternative to a magneto. The racing car, “Handy Andy,” it may be added, is fitted with double Delco ignition.