Letters from readers, September 1940

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Sir,

Firstly I would like to congratulate you upon keeping your excellent paper going during these difficult times, having been a regular reader since 1924.

Perhaps the thing I have appreciated most is the fact that it has always had a view-point, and, not having been merely content to report, it has always commented fearlessly. Though I have sometimes disagreed with the opinions, it has always been refreshing to read the outspoken views which your paper has expressed. I particularly liked the article entitled “Sound and Speed in Motor Racing,” and also the one entitled “On Some Unwritten Laws of the Game” which appeared in July. With reference to this article, however, on one or two points I rather disagree with you. Re helmets—you say “but in our world, helmets are best avoided altogether. If you must, stick to an old leather flying hat, and insist that the lady on your left wears something in dark Grenfell cloth.” Now, why avoid helmets altogether? Personally, I consider that if you drive an open car in the winter, a helmet is the only suitable article of headgear. There is nothing “sissy” about it, it is just the “common sense hat.” For obvious reasons you are quite right about avoiding white or any bright colours, but why must it be as you suggest? Why not a new black one, or if you prefer it, a brown one?

I deplore those people who haven’t got the guts to do or wear something which is obviously sensible and justifiable, just because they are afraid some smallminded nitwit of an enthusiast may suspect him of trying to look like a racing driver. As to the “Fairy” on my left, why must her helmet be dark? No, sir! it can be as bright as she likes, even white if she wants it. I know you don’t like the white variety, even on girls, neither do I personally, but I really don’t think it offends the unwritten code of our world.

As to comic notices on trials cars; competition numbers and pet names, I am with you all the way; but, sir, you say that racing drivers don’t jab the accelerator (I presume you mean throttle!) up and down when warming, up; maybe not for actual warming up, but it is certainly done on many engines to keep the plugs dry, and one can sometimes misjudge the unfortunate enthusiast, as with at least one thoroughbred, but old, motor I have possessed this treatment was sometimes the only way of keeping plugs dry in traffic.

Finally, isn’t it odd how so many of the things you mention in your article are all right on some cars, but just terrible on others? Great big fishtails which really do nothing, and even bonnet straps, which cannot be necessary, do look absolutely all right on certain cars, though just as certainly they spoil others, not that the purely ornamental is ever really justified though.

Wishing your journal the success it deserves.

I am, Yours etc.,

“SCAVENGE PUMP.”

London, N.20.

[Perhaps in a screenless cockpit a helmet is the only sensible wear. We probably suggested an “old” helmet because we invariably borrow this item of equipment and this habit is by now so obvious that our friends never leave new hats about . . . . Seriously, if a helmet is worn frequently and serviceably, not for effect, it will look worn, and if it is continually being renewed this suggests undue vanity anyway. The reason we dictated what the lady-passenger should wear is because the driver has a right so to do. A swimming enthusiast would surely see that the girl friend wore a regulation swim suit at a meeting at which such wear was considered desirable, no matter how sweet she might look in those beach creations which we used to go down to the sea to see. So why shouldn’t the sports-car enthusiast be equally concerned? We attempted to distinguish between opening up to high r.p.m. and letting the speed gently fall, as the racing driver does to avoid high stresses, and idly jabbing the throttle foot up and down, which we deplore.—Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

I note with great interest in your current issue that there is a f.w.d. Alvis chassis in a breaker’s yard near Oxford. I should be more than grateful if you could give me concise information as to the name and whereabouts of this breaker, or of whoever reported its presence.

If this information is available, I will institute a pilgrimage to the spot in search of spares for my own f.w.d. Alvis.

Now it is in dock again and has just been reduced in wheelbase by 18 inches. This, by the way, was a very easy operation, as there is no prop-shaft or other impediment to hinder.

I note also the letter from your correspondent, Mr. Titley, of Coventry. Although not a Service man, I shall be glad to meet him or any other reader in the “Grapes” in Coventry, or any ale house between Coventry and Leamington.

I wish to thank you for continuing to publish MOTOR SPORT.

I am, Yours etc.,

D. M. R. ADAMS.

11, Euston Place,

Leamington Spa.

[Will Service personnel interested please write direct?—Ed.]