Sir,—I have just read your July Editorial and report of the B.A.R.C. Whitsun Meeting, and beg to comment further on the subject, in view of the publication in the same issue of my letter advocating a return of the ” Heavy Metal” at Brooklandsand the fact that it is not much use advocating the return of big cars if, as you maintain, they cannot race at the track in safety ! Surely the only way to tackle the grave problem of safe passing in outer-circuit racing is to keep a strict watch on the small fry ? I imagine that if cars can be taken safely round Brooklands above the ” limit” of 120 m.p.h. by driving them as on a road-circuit, then in the same way it should be possible to keep small cars reasonably low down on the banking, even though they may not then be travelling in the theoretically correct place for their speed. Point is given to this reasoning by the photograph on page 407 which shows the Barnato-Hassen passing Seyd’s Magnette and Dunham’s Alvis comfortably, the Barnato itself being on the ” too line and the others well below, though everyone is presumably travelling at well over too m.p.h. In your report of the
Whitsun Meeting you state : . . . prudence forbade the dangerous hazard of nosing past at the very top of the banking and she (Mrs. Petre on the Delage) very properly held back.” Why ? I seem to recall that Parry Thomas used to go right to the rim of the banking to get past in the Leyland-Thomas, removing a small shrub on one occasion with the front wheels. Indeed, did he not keep a very high position all round the bankings, probably to avoid making continual swerves up and down, and perhaps to give other drivers ample warning that he was coming through ? The danger of the path being suddenly obscured hardly exists, for no driver is going to swerve blindly upwards when he knows that the scratch cars are coming up behind at anything up to 145 m.p.h. ! It must be most unpleasant to drive right at the rim, with the trees flying past and the village of Byfleet some 20 feet below, but there is no reason to criticise the Brooklands authorities or the construction of the, track, just because the standard of driving of the very fast cars is falling.
The ” passing problem ” is a difficult one, but I think it could be partially solved be keeping a strict watch on the slow large cars and on the small fry generally. The old ” too m.p.h.” line might well be regarded as the outside limit, even when passing, for certain types of cars. I don’t like your suggestion that the “over 130 m.p.h. brigade” should be subsidised to run as permanent backmarkers. It savours too much of similar
principles which are put forward by people who apparently wish motor-racing to become a sort of national pastime with endless meetings on dirt-track lines. Finally, your idealistic views on keeping spectators in hand by appealing to their honour and common-sense, falls down when it is remembered how people used to get on to the course at Brooklands before the wire-mesh era, quite apart from the fact that, even when the crowd “staysput,” the cars sometimes take it on themselves to invade the enclosures.
This continual criticism of Brooklands is annoying to some of us, but I am not sure that it will not do the track a power of good—for the public will roll up in huge numbers if they think there is any chance of seeing cars squeezed over the top of the bankings at anything up to 150 m.p.h. Hoping that you will be sporting enough to publish these views, I am, yours, etc., W. BODDY. 43, Broxholm Road,
r Mr. Soddy appears to have overlooked the fact that the cars racing at Brooklands to-day are considerably faster, as a whole, than those of a decade ago. It is therefore beside the point to say that the standard of driving very fast cars has fallen.
With regard to Mrs. Petre’s handling of the Delage, we stand by our original opinion that she was wise to hold back. The incident to which Mr. Boddy refers of the late Parry Thomas carrying away a small shrub when passing another competitor was an isolated one in that driver’s career. We venture to think that if Thomas were alive to-day he would not recommend it as a procedure to be followed normally. Mr. Boddy is apparantly not aware that Thomas’ fastest lap speed was 129 m.p h., and that his habit of keeping to the extreme edge of the track, right and proper as it was at a time when his fastest rivals were many m.p.h. slower, would greatly inconvenience the faster cars of to-day. Also, it would not have solved the passing problem for him in a race of thirteen cars, all capable of lapping at more than too m.p.h.
Mr. Boddy’s conception of ” small fry ” is apparently based on the cars of ten years ago, which lapped at 8o-too m.p.h. Nowadays their speed is 100-120 m.p.h. ED. 1