MOTORING SPORTSMEN. Captain T. C. Douglas.
By THE EDITOR.
CAPTAIN JOHN CHARLES DOUGLAS, who has figured prominently at Brooklands since the war, is one of those amateur drivers of whom but little is known by the average habituee of the track, for until quite recently he has had no direct interest in the motor business. It is interesting, therefore, to record some of his more notable achievements of the past, especially in view of his outstanding success in winning the One Hundred Miles Race at Brooklands on August Bank Holiday last, when competing against a field of which every member was out to win an important trophy.
On leaving Westminster School, J. C. Douglas was articled to Mr. A. E. Carey, M.Inst.C.E., and was duly initiated into the arts and mysteries of civil engineering, but soon discovered that the particular branch of engineering upon which he was engaged, namely harbour construction, and foreshore work, did not strike him as being sufficiently engrossing to take up as a career and so in the year 1908 he abandoned that profession and sailed for the Argentine, where he took up the duties of administrador on a cattle estancia, or ranch.
Strangely enough, it was amid these queer surroundings that Douglas first became interested in motoring and in the course of business and pleasure covered many thousands of miles in an ancient, but remarkably reliable Thornycroft car, of the type that Mr. Tom Thornycroft drove in the Tourist Trophy in the Isle of Man. At that time, however, the conditions of the roads were such as to render much in the way of speed impossible, besides which the game of polo occupied a large part of his leisure, and Douglas soon became known as a 5 handicap man and took part in many important tournaments. At the outbreak of the War, Douglas found himself in Bolivia, whence he had gone to purchase
cattle for the estancia, but as soon as possible returned to England to offer his services. Being given a commission in the Royal Field Artillery, he saw service with the 29th Division in Gallipoli and later in France, where he was promoted to the rank of Captain.
After being demobilised, he took up motoring as a hobby and acquired a Perry car, which will be remembered as the progenitor of the Bean, but it was not until 1922 that the sporting side of motoring attracted his attention. His first taste of the pleasures of real speed came when he purchased one of the Sports EnfieldAllday cars built for the 1922 Two Hundred Miles Race, with which he was fairly successful at Brooldands for a couple of seasons.
Aston Martin Enthusiast.
Whilst at Brooklands he frequently competed with Aston-Martin cars and the performance of these machines so attracted his admiration that he was not long in making a change in favour of the little black AstonMartin ” N****r,” which he used almost entirely for racing, purchasing a very fast little three-seater of the same make for touring purposes. With the exception of competing in the Kop Hill climb, Capt. Douglas did not take part in any road competition events, but kept to track work. In 1924, he was associated with Mr. Bertelli, the Enfield-Allday designer, and Capt. Woolf Barnato in building the Bertelli car, which he drove in the Two Hundred Miles Race of that year. The Bertelli car was fitted with
a Burt McCullum single sleeve valve engine and in spite of its being got ready only just in time for the race, managed to put up a very good show. Capt. Douglas still believes that that particular type of engine has great possibilities as a really” Hot” job, and it is quite likely that future developments may take place in connection therewith.
His next car was the famous Aston-Martin “Razor Blade,” which was originally intended for an attack upon the Hour Record, but for some reason never achieved its destiny. Instead it became a consistent performer at Brooldands and will be remembered by its fine exhibition in the hands of its owner by finishing second to J. G. Parry Thomas in the News of the World Handicap of 1925. Another success of this car was the Essex Motor Club ” Hundred” and during the same season Capt. Douglas won the Ninety Miles Handicap on Whit Monday. As mentioned previously Capt. Douglas’ best performance to date was his great success in winning the
Evening News Hundred Miles Handicap at an average speed of 94.75 m.p.h. on his 1500 c.c., four cylinder Bugatti, which ran with remarkable regularity throughout the race, largely due to the skilful manner in which it was handled.
Though essentially a fast driver Capt. Douglas has had a wide enough experience of racing to appreciate that the mere ” standing on the gas” is not the only way to win races and having had plenty of opportunity of studying the finer points of track-craft in the various races in which he has participated, should come still further to the front in the future. Readers will follow him with interest in the coming Boulogne Grand Prix and the Two Hundred Miles race for which he has entered his Bugatti.
Capt. J. C. Douglas is now associated with Capt. Malcolm Campbell of Malcolm Campbell Ltd., in the racing department, and his wide experience as an amateur Bugatti enthusiast will doubtless prove of inestimable value to those who seek his advice.
THE AMATEUR ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIP, 1926.
Sporting interest in early September centres on this event, Popularly known as the Amateur T.T. Over fifty entries have been received, which is easily a record, among them being J. C. Vaughan, who was second last year on a Norton, and J. W. Morton, who won the cup for the fastest 350 c.c. rider on a New Gerrard-Blackburne.
Last year’s winner, Lieut. H. 0. Dobbs, R.N., is expected to defend his title if he can obtain the necessary leave, a difficulty which faces several other would-Le naval entrants.
This year the race will be run over six laps (instead of five) of the T.T. course, and T.T. conditions prevail throughout, with the exception that there is no restriction of fuel, as in the A.C.U. races. Alcohol mixtures will therefore be used in all probability by some entrants.
The organisation is carried out by the Manx Motor Cycle Club, of whom the Secretary is H. E. Kneale, Esq., 1, Athol Street, Douglas.