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The first ever Brooklands meeting was held on Saturday, July 6th, 1907
Listed alphabetically by surname. Many appear in several parts of the report.
The makes of cars in the first Brooklands meeting
As we have received a number of enquiries from non-members of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club about the arrangements for the race meetings, and particularly in regard to the opening meeting today (Saturday), we give the following particulars:
Prices of admission - Reserved lawn, £1; grandstand, 5s; public enclosure, 2s. 6d.
No advance booking. All payments to be made at the gates. Time of starting, one o'clock.
The charge for admission of a motor car to the carriage enclosure is 10s. which payment entitles the chauffeur to admission to public enclosure. The racing cannot be seen from the carriage enclosure.
The Programme of the Races for today, Saturday, July 6th.
HORSLEY PLATE OF 300 Sovs. (About 3 miles).
GOTTLIEB DAIMLER MEMORIAL PLATE of 650 Sovs. (About 15 miles).
BYFLEET PLATE OF 550 Sovs. (About 10 miles).
STEPHENSON PLATE OF 300 Sovs. (About 30 miles).
FIRST MONTAGU CUP OF 2,100 Sovs. (About 30 miles).
MARCEL RENAULT MEMORIAL PLATE of 550 Sovs. (About 12 miles).
On Saturday morning all roads led to Brooklands. Hundreds of cars were driven down from London, the short twenty miles to Weybridge, and many cars came up from the provinces. Special trains were run from Waterloo, and it is stated that over 13,500 people and more than 500 cars passed the turnstiles.
Before proceeding to deal with the racing we may well turn to the meeting as a whole. It was felt that a great deal depended upon the first meeting, and there was also a feeling among motorists that too much would be expected from it. We are afraid this was the case, and that in consequence the general note was one of disappointment. The fact of the matter is the track itself is such a magnificent enterprise and so much has been said about it that the visitors to the first meeting expected more than they should have expected. To all intents and purposes the meeting should have been regarded as a full dress rehearsal to which the public were admitted.
As was pointed out in these pages quite recently, motor racing on a specially prepared enclosed track must have time for development. After all, both competitors and the Brooklands Racing Club have to learn their parts. The majority of the competitors know very little of the possibilities of the track at present, and a certain number of competitions must be held before it is likely that there will be many really exciting finishes, such as the magnificent race which took place between Jarrott and Newton, and which resulted in a dead heat for the Byfleet Plate. We have never seen a more exciting finish than this, and it must be remembered that this race was over ten and a quarter miles, so that the even running was remarkable. The other cars in the race, however, were completely out of it, the nearest being half a minute or so behind the winners.
Then, again, the race for the Montagu Cup was a most interesting event, although it was over a distance of thirty miles. That is to say, the cars had to make eleven circuits; but the finish was very ragged, though the various tussles between the different cars as the race proceeded were most interesting.
Enough, and more than enough, was shown to prove the possibilities of magnificent and interesting racing in the future, more particularly as it is hoped before very long to be able to handicap the cars in certain events so as to ensure close finishes. There are many difficulties in the way of this, but the committee are confident that it can be done. We are confident that it cannot be done unless special precautions are taken to ensure that the same car is used in race after race, and that no vital part of it is altered. Then, again, there is the question of fuel; there were all sorts of rumours current of different kinds of fuel enrichments, of which oxygen appeared to be the most popular.
The management as a whole left much to be desired, and many of the competitors were far from satisfied with the arrangements. At the same time, we think it is only fair that allowance should be made for the fact that the meeting was the first, as there is no question whatever that great improvements must and will he made.
We made a point of going to every part of the track open to spectators from the members' enclosure to the half-crown places, and we must say these were the only two points from which the racing could he well seen. The occupants of the half-crown area did not have so good a view of the start as those who were free to roam from the high bridge to the paddock or weighing court, but they could see a great deal more of it than could the five shilling and the twenty shilling spectators. In fact, the reserved lawn, admission to which costs £1, was, in our opinion, the worst position of any.
Then, again, great disappointment was felt by the people who went down on their cars that they could not occupy them. The cars were parked in a position from which the racing was not visible, and if one had left, say, a coat in the car, one could not go back for it without wandering to the gates and then paying a second time before being allowed to re-enter; there were no pass-out checks. One unfortunate visitor complained that he had lost his wife, his car, and his chauffeur. There he was on the £1 lawn, and so far as he could see it would cost him another £1 for the privilege of going to look for them.
Then the competitors complained that in some cases they had had to pay for the admission of the drivers of their cars. It is a great pity, so far as the visitors' cars are concerned, that better arrangements cannot be made. It ought to be possible to drive the cars inside the course, so that those who wish to do so could occupy them and view the racing from this point of vantage. As it is, only the car and the driver are allowed to go into the car enclosure. The occupants of the car are bundled out, and have to enter the grounds with those who have come by train. As we have said, it is only fair to attribute much of this inconvenience to inexperience on the part of the staff, but we must say that the lack of organisation was greater than it should have been even when every allowance has been made. For instance, if a person wished to pass from the grandstand to the reserved lawn, he had, naturally, to pay the difference, but it was rather against the grain to receive neither a receipt nor a ticket.
We do not wish to be hypercritical, because we have the greatest admiration for the Brooklands track and for the enterprise which has brought it about. In fact, we would urge all our readers who went to the first meeting and who were disappointed to bear in mind that the racing is not what it will he if the management profits by its first experience, as we believe it will. Personally, we found the afternoon most interesting and at times exciting, and we believe that the majority of enthusiastic automobilists were in agreement with us, but we must confess we should have no keen desire to attend many meetings unless we were confident that the management would steadily improve as meeting after meeting is held.
The track has immense potentialities, and so long as these are recognised at once and the shortcomings of the first meeting made good, at the next all will be well; but, as we have already inferred, it is almost a pity that the new sport should have had such an enthusiastic attendance of the public on what was, after all, but a full dress rehearsal.
It was also obvious, on looking through the names of the owners, that almost all the cars entered were run by members of the industry, though there were a few amateur owners, and we think all those gentlemen who took part in the first meeting should be called together by the Brooklands committee and consulted as to future policy. Many of them would have valuable and practical suggestions to make, some of which possibly might be unacceptable to the committee, but there is no doubt that many of their suggestions would be adopted, to the benefit of all concerned.
We look forward to the next meeting as likely to he of very great interest, if only on account of two events. One is the Manx Stakes, open to Tourist Trophy cars only. This should be absorbingly interesting, not less because of the fact that there will be no fuel limit, as it will show how cars, pace for pace, when the fuel limit is removed, compare with their Manx performances in the T.T. Race itself. Then, again, there is the Humber Plate reserved entirely for 10-12 h.p. Humbers. These two races may be said to be the initiating of the one-design series of events. Possibly they may be failures from lack of sufficient entries or other causes, but, whatever they may be, they have the germs of success in them, and as the enterprise is developed such events should be among the most interesting it is possible to hold.
This is looking ahead, and we should perhaps turn again to Saturday. When we arrived by road, we found a huge concourse of people streaming up from the South-Western station to the course gates, only some quarter of a mile from the station. The road was occupied by a seemingly endless line of motor cars, which were marshalled by a large force of police, and when we joined the procession it was well over a quarter of a mile long. It was a perfect pandemonium. The police kept closing the cars up, and really had them too close together, so that the majority were running their engines faster than they should have been, because the drivers were afraid of stopping them and not being able to move on when the imperative constable signalled them to go ahead. Some, however, had to wait so long that they very wisely stopped their engines. They sometimes started again on the switch, and sometimes did not. When they did not, the unfortunate driver had to run round to the front in peril of his life, while the cars behind him took up his position. To add to the confusion, a constant stream of cars was coming in the opposite direction, as many people who intended to take their cars into the enclosure sent them back when they found that there was such a huge crush. Not only so, they recognised that they would be able to leave lunch more quickly than if they once became entangled in the huge park of cars in the enclosure.
Talking of this brings to mind the fact that coming out of the grounds is almost worse than going in, because the hill from the track to the gates is very steep, and though easily climbable by any decent car, is rather trying to climb in company with two or three hundred other cars which are being stopped by traffic blocks every few yards. It must be remembered that each individual car has one in front of it and one behind it. When the car in front stops, one has to stop instantly one's self, and there is no time to make a sign to the driver behind. Then things become additionally interesting if a car begins to run backward, as some of them did. We saw several bent wings and other trifling indications of damage, and altogether we should say a good bit of paint must have been scratched at the opening meeting at Brooklands - one of those spectacles which we confess we appreciated the more because we had extricated our beloved car from the queue early in the proceedings, and had taken it away to a place of safety.
One could not help noticing how the steam cars scored in a press of this sort. They pushed on gently inch by inch as the police officers directed, and there was no running of engines, which in many cases, with petrol cars, stopped at the critical moment of restarting; the noise was so great that one could not tell whether one's engine was running or not.
To return to the racing, it is necessary to remember that races of more than one circuit partake of much the same features as road events. That is to say, the competitors change places so often, and necessarily out of sight of the spectators that no individual onlooker can follow the positions of all the cars round, say, half a dozen circuits, even by the aid of the most powerful glasses. Nevertheless, he can keep their running more closely under observation than on the very much larger circuits used for road racing. This fact should have needed no demonstration, but the majority of spectators were evidently surprised that it should be so. They seemed to imagine that they would see cars running round a titanic saucer always in full view. However, this, after all, provides the lesson which must be learned. If motor racing is to be a success, it must provide close finishes, and be, in the main, over short distances. We do not mean there should be no long distances, because the thirty-mile race for the Montagu Cup was very interesting, but there should also be some one-lap sprints — simply one circuit and down the straight. Such events as this with a few evenly-balanced cars would be most exciting. The races need not be run at terrific speeds, because any speed much below a hundred miles an hour appears a mere crawl on the great circuit. Personally, we believe that one-lap races between cars which could not by any possibility exceed forty miles an hour, but which would produce close finishes, would be much more interesting than events between cars of double the speed, which only produce a ragged finish and a runaway win. Below are summarised results of all the events, as well as a few particulars of each race.
At 1.0, 1.30, and 2.30. - The MARCEL RENAULT MEMORIAL PLATE of 550 sovs.; the nominator of the winner to receive 400 sovs., the nominator of the second 100 sovs., and the nominator of the third 50 sovs.; for motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension 85 to under 110, R.A.C. rating; weight 3,000 lbs.; entrance, 25 sovs. Distance, 11.4328 miles.
1.0. — HEAT 1.
Tryon got the Napier away very smartly, gaining a good lead, which he succeeded in maintaining; he was closely followed by Mr. Huntley Walker's Darrracq, but gradually drawing away, won the heat by several hundred yards.
1.30. HEAT 2.
The real possibilities of motor racing were indicated in this heat, which gave a grand battle between the two Iris cars. Bircham got away first, closely followed by the rest of the field. Earp ran up close to Bircham, and the two drew out practically alone. In the finishing straight, Earp got up an extra sprint and drawing level with Bircham, passed him almost on the line.
2.30. - FINAL HEAT.
Tryon again got away very quickly, and got a substantial lead from Earp, with Huntley Walker, Groves, and Fabry as a tail. Fabry got a lead on Groves, but otherwise no change in position took place. Huntley Walker finished with a burst tyre.
HORSLEY PLATE of 300 sovs.; the nominator of the winner to receive 250 sovs., and the nominator of the second 50 sovs.; for motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension 60 to under 85, R.A.C. rating; weight, 3,000 lbs.; entrance, 15 sovs. Distance, 3.28 miles.
Huntley Walker got such a big lead on the field that, barring accidents, he was a certain winner. Lord, Gore Browne, and Saunderson hung together, and each drove his utmost to get his number up into first place after the winner. Lord eventually got over the line about four feet in front of Gore Browne, with Saunderson about a length behind the third.
3.0. - The GOTTLIEB DAIMLER MEMORIAL PLATE of 650 sovs.; the nominator of the winner to receive 500 sovs. and the nominator of the second 150 Sovs.; for motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension 120 to under 155, R.A.C. rating; weight, 3,000 lbs.; entrance, 30 sovs. Distance, 15.743 miles.
An unlooked for but extremely popular win came as a result of a race full of latent possibilities. Moore-Brabazon got away in a surprising manner, closely followed by Instone, who appeared to hang in about the fifties an hour for an appreciable distance, and then to get going in good style. The Minerva was meanwhile getting away and making a big gap between it and the field. Sangster got the Ariel close up to Instone's Daimler, and for nearly three laps they hung together, first one and then the other getting the advantage. Instone eventually got the lead, and the Ariel bonnet blowing up spoilt Sangster's chance entirely. Whilst watching the Daimler-Ariel struggle we suddenly missed Moore-Brabazon and the yellow Kaiser Cup Minerva. He was in a refuge with his carburetter alight, and all chances of the race gone. Instone was left with the race, with Keating's Daimler running second and Huntley Walker third. The latter had checked on the far straight, but kept going, and rolled in second, with Keating's Daimler left stopped at the entrance to the straight. Smith was left at the post with the Napier, he having missed gears. Though he picked up well he had to give up later through losing water, with consequent heating of his engine and stoppage.
3.40. — The BYFLEET PLATE of 550 sovs.; the nominator of the winner received 450 sovs. and the nominator of the second 100 sovs.; for motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension 110 to 135, R.A.C. rating; weight 3,000 lbs.; entrance, 25 sovs. Distance, 10.3078 miles.
Without doubt this was the finest race of the meeting, it being full of excitement to those who followed the cars in their course. Wagner took the Fiat away in magnificent style, but was soon passed by Jarrott, who held the lead for a lap, with Wagner close behind and Newton drawing up close. On the second lap Newton passed Wagner in the back bend, and went for Jarrott as hard as he could drive, etching him in the third lap and hanging on right into the finishing straight, where he made a magnificent and curious spurt; but it was too late, and he passed the line with Jarrott, the judges giving it a dead heat, and the stakes were divided. It is to be hoped that these cars may meet again on some future occasion in equal trim.
4.20. — The FIRST MONTAGU CUP of 2,100 sovs., a cup value 200 sovs. and the remainder in specie; the nominator of the winner received the cup and 1,400 sovs., the nominator of the second received 400 sovs., and the nominator of the third 100 sovs.; for motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension 155 to under 235, R.A.C. rating; weight 2,600 lbs.; entrance, 50 sovs. Distance, 30 miles.
This event attracted a good field and gave a grand race, full of incidents and speculations — of the mind. Demogeot got his Darracq away quickly, but its stable companion, driven by Warwick Wright coming up, passed it and took place behind Hutton and Cecil Edge. This order was held for some distance; then Hutton fell back to fifth place, Resta coming up to fourth, Demogeot and Warwick Wright being in front. The American speed king — Demogeot — dropped out with a burst tyre, and Wright went in front of Edge and kept there. Edge gradually losing ground, Hutton again came up to second place, very closely followed by Resta. Okura, Brown, and Fabry were meanwhile having a dust up on their own, the former taking up Edge's place as fifth in the string. Wright stopped on the tenth round, and Resta again passed Hutton. Okura had by now come up to third place. Rests, held the lead at the entrance to the straight, but, misunderstanding the lap signal, went another round. This let Hutton into the straight an easy winner, with Okura second, Resta coming in third at the conclusion of his unpremeditated extra run virtually a winner.
5.0. — The STEPHENSON PLATE of 300 sovs.; the nominator of the winner to receive 200 sovs. and the nominator of the second 100 sovs.; for motor cars of a price not less than £600 and not exceeding £700; weight 3,500 lbs.; entrance, 25 sovs. Distance, 5.997 miles.
Harrison led for one lap, with the Marquis St. Mars second and Northey third. On the next lap some in and out work occurred, and the Marquis St. Mars won by about 150 yards from Harrison, Owen being about the same distance behind,
Official race cards were being offered and sold out-side the entrance to the course at double their price. A favourite dodge was to paste a small gummed label over the price, converting it from sixpence to one shilling.
When lord Montagu congratulated Mr. J. E. Hutton on winning the cup, which bears his lordship's name, he accepted the good wishes of the donor, and frankly stated that "the other man ought to have won."
The Kaiser Cup Minerva, which Mr. Moore-Brabazon brought out for the Gottlieb Daimler Memorial Plate, lost the race through a valve leaking, and the carburetter catching fire as a result. Up to the time of the mishap the car was going magnificently, and held a big lead from Mr. Instone's Daimler, which, how- ever, appeared to be slowly gaining upon the Minerva.
Mr. G. S. Barwick had very hard luck, as he could not get his Daimler going in time to turn out for the Daimler Memorial Plate. The carburetter had momentarily stuck up and over-flooded. By dint of much pushing of the car around the Pavilion, the carburetter was cleared of its superfluous spirit, and by an irony of fate the engine started up at the precise moment the race commenced.
The ballast box on one of the Iris cars showed that track racing conditions had been carefully studied by the designers, for it was laid lengthwise on the chassis instead of across.
It was rumoured that Newton's fine spurt in the finish of the Byfleet Plate was accomplished by the use of oxygen. Supposing this to be correct, are oxygen and other sources of increasing power for spurts to be permitted by the Stewards in future?
Several drivers went out without any mechanic or other passenger. This was bad practice, as it necessitated the driver looking round to see his position with regard to other runners before entering the straight, whereas a second man can always count and check laps and note positions, if he does nothing else.
When Newton came off the weighbridge, after running Jarrott a dead heat, the following dialogue occurred between Messrs. Napier and Newton: "Had a good race?" "Yes, very good. I could have done better with a mirror, though." "Think so." Then Napier walked off, thinking deeply, which all goes to show that it is better to have two men on a car than one.
The Daimler car entered and driven by Mr. H. S. Keating in the Daimler Memorial Plate was a standard 45 h.p. car, which the owner had denuded of the body and everything else he could. The driver sat on a bit of carpet tied down to the petrol tank, and got his back support by a broad belt around his waist, and straps up to the dashboard. It might be said that this was the only car competing in the race which had previously been in daily use in completed form.
Mr. Keating was running into second place in his race when he stopped in the entrance to the straight; it was reported that the petrol supply was choked. Overheating troubles accounted for the dropping out of quite a number of the cars, and lubricating difficulties were not unknown. It is evident that many improvements will be effected on the racing cars, with subsequent advantage to all future touring cars.
On the road to the track there were hundreds of motor vehicles of all descriptions, and it struck us that the racing club would have been well advised had it seen that the roads near the course were tarred to prevent the excessive lust, which was painfully apparent on Saturday. This will probably be remedied for a future meeting.
In the competitors' enclosure, which corresponds to the paddock at a horse racing meeting, the variety of cars was bewildering. Very few low horse-powered cars were to be found, and in a number of instances the bonnets of the cars resembled the broadside of a man-of-war, as the exhaust pipes just protruded from the bonnet side, and when the engine was running, long flames and a deafening roar issued there from.
Quick alarms were the order of the day, for whilst quietly looking round one car it was not unusual for a big 120 h.p. engine to be started off, giving one quite a shock by reason of the noise. Practically all the cars racing had their silencers dismounted. Mechanics and drivers were frantically executing repairs and adjustments at short order before racing was actually to commence in the various events.
It could not be said that great excitement was perceivable among the spectators during the two heats for the Marcel-Renault Memorial Plate, the first heat being practically a runaway win for the 40 h.p. Napier car, driven by A. C. Tryon. The second heat, however, was more exciting, and provided a rare finish between the Iris cars, driven respectively by A. Clifford Earp and F. R. S. Bircham, the former winning after a close finish. Similarly, in the race for the Horsley Plate, the runaway win of Mr. Huntley Walker on his Darracq did not provide much excitement.
The tit-bit of the meeting, as far as excitement was concerned, was the Byfleet Plate. This resolved itself into a duel between a 45 h.p. Napier driven by Mr. F. Newton and the 60 h.p. Lorraine-Dietrich driven by Mr. Chas. Jarrott. Both these cars got away to a good start at the fall of the flag, and it was at once seen that, barring accidents, a most exciting race was on between the two. The cars ran on practically even terms, first one and then the other leading slightly for three rounds, at the end of which turning into the straight the Dietrich appeared to be ahead by about five yards. Forty yards or so from the tape the lead was still maintained; but, driving splendidly and making a most extraordinary effort, Mr. Newton seemed to fairly lift his car past the finishing point, and a dead heat was declared. Many spectators were of the opinion that Jarrott had won by a foot, yet from the writer's position on the finishing line, it could equally have been averred that the Napier front wheel was an inch or two in front of the Dietrich. However, a dead heat fairly represents the equality between the two cars. It is extraordinary that such a close finish should be witnessed between two dissimilar cars after they had gone over ten and one-third miles. The enthusiasm of the spectators was worked up to a high pitch, and both drivers had a splendid reception.
The first Montagu Cup event was expected to prove very exciting, but did not evoke the enthusiasm expected. For a long time it looked as though the flying Darracq driven by Demogeot had an easy thing. This intrepid driver was running high up the track on the bends, and irresistibly reminded one of a fly on the ceiling. Probably owing to taking the bends so high, and, as we understand, no differential was fitted to this car, the outer tyres were destroyed after a few laps were covered, with the result that the chances of the Darracq went by the board. D. Resta on a 120 h.p. Mercedes looked all over an easy winner. But, unfortunately instead of turning into the straight for home, after completing the correct number of laps, he went on for another lap, with the result that Mr. J. E. Hutton, on a similar power and make of car, was declared the winner. The Japanese driver, Mr. K. Okura, on the 100 h.p. Fiat was second and D. Resta on the Mercedes third. One of the cars, after doing its last round, shed a tyre, which was seen to run along the track after the car at a fine pace. Fortunately no one was hurt.
In the last race for the Stevenson Plate, by some misunderstanding, two cars ran with a No. 1 affixed, but ultimately a Darracq was the winner, this being driven by a distinguished amateur, the Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars.
No times were declared, only the weights, car numbers, and drivers’ names being put up on the telegraph board. Much interest was taken that Nazzaro, the crack Italian driver, was to drive a Fiat car, but unfortunately did not turn up, owing to eye trouble caused by driving on tarred roads in the Grand prix Race, so Wagner took his place.
The weather kept beautifully fine throughout, and if everything did not work smoothly, this was only to be expected. Naturally, these events take a lot of organising and preparation before everything settles down into place. No doubt by the time a few meetings have been held, everything will go off like clockwork.
Some better system of distinguishing the cars and drivers will have to be arranged. It was quite impossible to follow most of the cars during the race. Colours which were quite prominent when the cars were at rest became indistinct when they were moving at high speed, and the numbers painted on the cars were altogether invisible. This in a great measure detracted from the interest of the proceedings.
With racing at speeds above forty miles an hour, it is almost impossible to recognise the drivers or the cars. To overcome this difficulty, a large metal number disc of, say, 24in. diameter, or even larger, could be carried on each car, the disc being supported on a suitable pillar erected higher than the driver's head about the middle of the vehicle. There would be practically no wind resistance on disc. Then if the running number or letter of the alphabet were painted on each side of the disc in an easily read colour, the vehicles could be readily followed by spectators inside and outside the track, and interest sustained throughout the events. Of course, the numbers could be put in the distinctive colours of the drivers, provided there was sufficient contrast between the of the number and that of the disc.
Another thing which might be done is to cut down more of the trees which obstruct the view of the cars. From the entrance to the straight up to the grandstand grandstand a number of tree, might be cut down, for the cars are quite lost sight of for a time on the main part of the course; and also on the far side of the track, owing to the trees about the centre of the green fields, the view is again obstructed. To sustain interest the cars must be seen practically all the way round the course, and must be distinguisable. There were a few book-makers present, but these gentlemen hardly knew what odds to offer, for the merits of the various cars were unknown to them. The enterprising bookie has a lot to learn before he will be able to gauge the chances of the cars competing in these races, but no doubt as time goes on he will pick up this new branch of the business.
The pull-up after passing the finishing tape seemed perfectly easy and safe, notwithstanding that the cars passed the tape all out. It was thought that there was some danger of running over the track, but apparently from the results of Saturday, there is not the slightest ground for apprehension if those who finish first will keep a good look-out for fliers who may be coming up behind them.
The Secretary has been instructed by the Clerk of the Course to express the regret of the latter at the inconvenience caused to members at the race meeting on Saturday owing to the defective arrangements in connection with access to and egress from the carriage enclosure and other similar matters.
Some of the defects will be remedied at once, but it will be impossible to complete a satisfactory carriage enclosure for some time, and the Clerk of the Course hopes for the indulgence of members.
The above official admission is frank and satisfactory, as it shows that the management are aware of certain shortcomings, and will do their best to rectify them as speedily as circumstances permit.
MARCEL RENAULT MEMORIAL PLATE.
GOTTLIEB DAIMLER PLATE.
FIRST MONTAGU CUP.
The correspondence columns contain letters from spectators of the Brooklands meeting. These criticisms are unquestionably useful, as they show some of the impressions of the visitors who went to see the racing. In addition to these we give below the views of a number of competitors. It will be noted that where satisfaction with the track and the arrangements is not expressed, the writers recognise that the sport is so entirely new and the conditions generally so novel that time must be given for experience to be gained by the management.
An Agreeable Surprise.
Sir, I was exceedingly pleased on the whole with the arrangements at the Brooklands track on Saturday. The races were started punctually to time, and the first use of the starting gate in motor car races was in every way most satisfactory.
The arrangement for counting the laps and making known to the competitors the number of laps they still have to go was, in my opinion, exceedingly satisfactory. Even when travelling at ninety five miles an hour I was able to read the number of laps I had to go when a considerable distance away, and eventually when finishing would easily see the red disc.
The weighing arrangements were good, and the dressing rooms and other comforts provided for the competitors were greatly appreciated.
If all the competitors had arrived with their cars in time as they were told to do, there would have been much less friction and clamouring.
The severe bump at the tail of the big bank is a very great strain on cars and drivers, unfortunately, this cannot be rectified before next season.
As regards the prospects of the future, I understand that the "gate" on Saturday was an agreeable surprise to the promoters and I think that when the public get to know the drives and understand the racing a little more, they will attend in their thousands; in other words, they will bet on the "jockeys," as they do not, understand the "horses."
In conclusion, there is bound to be dissatisfaction in anything. It is impossible to please everybody, but I cannot help feeling that, many of the competitors who grumbled most had only themselves to blame, and attention to rules and regulations made for their convenience would have greatly facilitated matters, and obviated a lot of the dissatisfaction expressed. J. E. HUTTON.
Suggestions for Handicapping.
Sir, — What struck ins chiefly at Brooklands on Saturday was the lack of enthusiasm amongst the spectators. I cannot find any other reason for this than that the meeting was entirely new to them, and outside the competitors and other people very nearly concerned, each car's chance was a nearly unknown quantity.
The efforts of the bookmakers to find the value of the cars from their point, of view was distinctly funny.
It seems to me that the short races were very much more favourably received than the long ones.
If I might make a suggestion, I think it would be well in each class to add weight according to the increase of cylinder capacity, so as to get something like a handicap. In my class the limit of cylinder dimension was 85mm. My cylinder dimension was 75.02, and, theoretically, the man who could enter a car in the same class with a cylinder dimension of, say, 135, would have a chance very much superior to mine.
From my point of view, therefore, I would handicap the car so as to make the winner the car which, weight for weight, could produce the best result at the road wheels.
As regards the track, I have nothing to complain of, as at the speed of the cars in my class, which was approximately fifty miles an hour, I found I could with ease hug the inner edge of the track all the way round.
The management, I found excellent in every way, and I received nothing but extreme courtesy from every official. W. T. LORD.
Sir, - I am sure that every automobile sportsman appreciates the efforts which are being made at Brooklands to popularise the sport of motor racing.
Before this can be achieved, however, good and fair racing has to secured, and it is the duty of every entrant - particularly those in the trade – to assist the B.A.R.C. in every possible manner by playing the game fairly and squarely.
I was, therefore, somewhat astonished and surprised to notice the flagrant manner in which certain cars competing at the opening meeting held at Brooklands were fitted up with oxygen cylinders with special apparatus arranged so as to enable the driver to use the oxygen during the race at will. Many people expressed surprise at some of the cars being able to spurt for a short distance at a very greatly increased speed, and will now be interested to know how it was done.
With the object of making good racing, certain limitations of engine size are imposed for each race, but if we are going to have this artificial method of obtaining increased power allowed, what, is the good of trying to classify cars? If motor racing is to be of benefit to the industry, if it is to be of benefit to the public, and if it is to continue to be a sport, this sort of thing must cease.
The curse of commercialism touches all things, but if certain competitors have such a poor idea of what sport is and how the game has to be played, then those in authority should teach them. Before any more race meetings are held the Royal Automobile Club should absolutely prohibit, the use of oxygen, etc., on any car run in any event held under its rules, and the infringement of the rule should be dealt with by suspending the culprits — owner and driver — from all events for two years.
The B.A.R.C. is running its meeting on horse racing lines; then, if race horses are not allowed to be doped, why should motor cars?
I consider the Brooklands meeting was fairly successful, but there is great necessity for close and exciting racing to interest the public. The obvious mistakes in management will no doubt be remedied in future after experience has been gained. CHAS. JARROTT.
Sir, - The inaugural meeting of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, held on Saturday last, was an undoubted success. Some unkind criticisms were passed upon the management by a certain number of participants, including both spectators and competitors, but it is a little bit unreasonable to expect that with a newly appointed staff conducting the first meeting of this character everything would go smoothly, and I think that after calm reflection the discontented few will recognise the fact. The work of the management was not rendered any easier by the fact that many of the competitors were unfamiliar with the formalities of the horse racing rules under which the meeting was conducted; as a result some confusion arose, but certainly far less than one might have reasonably expected, and I for one had no difficulty in following the instructions given.
When the various officials have carried through another meeting or two I have no reason to suppose but what every detail will be entirely satisfactory.
I think that some steps will require to be taken to permit of spectators more readily distinguishing competing cars, for on Saturday last it was practically impossible to do so even with the aid of powerful field glasses.
Another point is that closer racing would probably be obtained by having class events confined to a certain horsepower of a certain make; this would certainly be of little or no interest to the trade, but it should result in finishes likely to interest and excite the public.
It is true that on Saturday there was somewhat a lack of enthusiasm, but I think it was largely due to the fact that many of the spectators did not exactly appreciate what they had come to see, nor understand the conditions governing each race. As time goes on many more people should be attracted as spectators to the course, and I see no reason whatever to prevent motor racing being watched with as much interest as was cycle racing in the heyday of its glory. E. M. C. INSTONE.
Sir, — I think the management will improve with experience. It was a great misfortune in regard to Saturday's racing that the board which gave the results of the different laps was not in a finished state. This caused considerable confusion watching the results.
As for the prospects of Brooklands, I should say that from a financial standpoint they are not very cheery, judging from the lack of enthusiasm evinced by the crowd on Saturday.
Perhaps one should not be too critical of small details which show prospects of improving when one considers that it was the first day's racing on the track. FREDERIC COLEMAN.
Some Criticisms and Complaints.
Sir, - I think the management and control of the track at the opening day on Saturday, July 6th, left a good deal to be desired.
In the first place, all the work seemed to have been left to one man, and there seemed to he only one man who knew anything at all about the control of affairs, and that was the clerk of the course. Naturally, he could not please everybody, with the result that a good many of the competitors were complaining bitterly of the difficulty of obtaining reliable information as to what was expected of them.
Another point is, the members were allowed to crowd round the cars when the drivers and mechanics were doing their best to get near and do a little bit of tuning up and adjustment, with the result that the mechanics were hindered from satisfying themselves that everything was as it should have been. I would suggest that where the cars were lined up ready to go out to the starting point, that particular bit should be railed oft (quite close up to the cars if necessary), so that the public could readily see them at close quarters, yet not be able to practically crawl all over them.
Another point is that sooner or later an accident will happen, which will be bound to create a bad impression.
The starting and timing of the cars seemed to be perfectly satisfactory, with the exception of the counting of the circuits, and the control of same did not seem to be very satisfactory, inasmuch as one man, viz., D. Resta, made a mistake and went a round more than he need have done, with the result that he practically lost £1,300 by it.
With regard to the cars on the track itself, the committee should be more strict and compel competitors who are at least a lap behind, or have no intention of continuing the pace but only of finishing, to keep to the inside and not wander about on the bank or in the track of others, or hinder cars which are still continuing in the race. I noticed two or three competitors doing this on Saturday.
Another point is that no car should be allowed to proceed towards the starting point without doing this with the power of the car. One car (the Daimler) on Saturday was unable to start its engine, and the driver (who was no doubt a genuine sportsman) did not attempt to get his car out on the track until the engine did start, although by doing so he was shut out from the race. Another competitor, I understand, got a crowd to push his car in the enclosure, through the gate, and half-way down the course, before the clerk of the course brought him back and insisted upon him playing fair and square. I was very pleased to see that the clerk of the course was so firm in this matter.
As regards the public, I think a good many of them were entirely misled by the results of certain races, inasmuch as on some of the cars (although being genuine touring cars), the drivers were using oxygen and other aids to bring up the speed. The sooner the committee decide that in certain events only genuine touring cars shall be entered, and only ordinary petrol used, the more the public will appreciate it.
The public would be interested to know on the programme the bore and stroke of the engines of the cars entered for the various races, so that they could compare the results. A. F. KING.
Sanguine and Enthusiastic View.
Sir, - As one of those who took part as a competitor at the meeting on the 6th inst., I have much pleasure in bringing forward the following points:
The management of the meeting was, of course, not all that could be desired, but considering this was the first motor race meeting of its kind ever held, I must say that I consider that those responsible for the organisation of the same are to be congratulated.
Such an organisation without any actual previous experience upon which regulations might be based must have been extremely difficult, and I think we can feel sure, when the names of the management committee are considered, that there is no doubt the difficulties in the organisation that became evident at Saturday's meeting will be speedily remedied. In connection with this point there was one pleasing feature, and that was that the management as far as I could see absolutely kept to the regulations as issued to the letter, and though this caused a certain amount of discomfort to some, I must say that I think the officials were very wise indeed in carrying out the regulations in the strict manner they did.
The first point that I think is open to criticism is that of the classification of competing cars. As was shown in practically all the races, the classification was too broad and permitted cars of greatly varying h.p. to compete together, which naturally brought about straggling fields and easy wins; in fact, there was really only one close race and finish, and that was between the De Dietrich driven by Mr. Chas. Jarrott and the Napier car driven by Mr. Newton.
The ideal classification would he to arrange the different classes so that cars of the same h.p. and same total weight should run together, so that the result would then rely to a great extent on the quality of the driving. This, of course, I know is impossible to attain at the moment, but I do believe that if the Brooklands Club made known the fact that it proposed to have set standards for some of its races, it would not be long before manufacturers would produce care to comply therewith. At the moment the classification could be greatly improved by making the difference between the minimum and maximum cylinder dimensions much less, and this, I think, could be safely done at once without limiting the entries to any serious degree.
The next point is that of the expense to competitors in entering, as besides the entrance fees living so very high, varying from £15 to £50, the attendant expenses also for garage, etc., are on an equally liberal basis. Personally, I think this is a very great mistake, and if the expenses to competitors were brought down to a reasonable figure many more competitors would come forward for the meetings that are to be held.
The next point, that occurred to me was the difficulty of those watching the races to recognise the cars competing, as the very high speeds that are attained makes it nearly impossible to recognise the colours of the drivers of the cars; in fact, it was difficult for one like myself who has been in touch with the industry ever since its inception in this country, so that for the ordinary public one can imagine the difficulty would be great, and if lookers on cannot easily recognise the cars it does away with a great amount of their interest in the racing. Personally, I think that, besides the drivers being in colours, the cars themselves ought to be painted with their distinctive colours, or have means of displaying colours in a very distinct manner.
Another point that I think ought to be carried out is that the fuel used in the cars should be a standard commercial one, such as petrol, paraffin, alcohol, etc., and that the use of auxiliaries, such as oxygen, which was used by some of the competitors at last Saturday's meeting, should be barred.
As regards the future prospects of Brookland: -as I have every confidence in the committee controlling the same to modify their regulations, and also to arrange their meetings so as to provide good sport for both competitors and spectators — I think they are absolutely assured, as there is no doubt that motor racing carried on on a track of that description is most exciting sport, and one that I feel sure the public cannot help appreciating. The close finish between Mr. Jarrott and Mr. Newton that I mentioned previously was worth going a long way to see, and by the cheer of the spectators it clearly showed their appreciation of the sport, such as the race provided. Personally, I entered my car with a view of ascertaining exactly what the track and motor racing upon it were likely to provide in the shape of sport, though my car was hopelessly outclassed owing to having an engine of nearly less than half the power of some of the other competitors in my class. I must say that I enjoyed competing to the fullest extent, and all being well I hope to compete again in the future. Other competitors, too, with whom I discussed the matter were equally enthusiastic.
Another very important point made itself very evident during not only the race, but also on the days previous, when the various competitors were practising on the track and tuning up their cars, and that point is that racing under such conditions will, I think, greatly improve the breed of those cars which compete regularly. The condition of driving one's car to its fullest possible output, for a continued distance, is one that motorists have not had an opportunity of doing before, and the number of weak points in care that were brought out I think surprised a good many of those running, and was also clearly demonstrated in the large proportion of cars that were it to finish through some trouble or other in the actual races themselves.
This matter I discussed with various competitors, who can be counted amongst the finest motor engineers and experienced drivers that we have in this country, and they all agreed that they had experienced such small troubles with parts of their cars that under ordinary road running had been perfectly satisfactory: the working loose of nuts, screws, and in some eases the breaking of them, and other parts; and as it will be necessary for these points to be remedied in order to make the cars satisfactory to run under such conditions it must tend to improve the qualities of cars in it good many ways.
In conclusion I must say that I am most enthusiastic on the whole matter, and feel there are no doubts whatever as to the ultimate success of the Brooklands track, and motor racing generally under such conditions, and from a trade point of view I think it will greatly assist in the development of the motor movement with the most beneficial results. PERCY RICHARDSON.
Points for Improvement.
Sir, — We consider the management was very good, but we can form no opinion as to the future prospects of motor racing. The following points occur to us:
(1.) We think the rating of the cars entirely wrong, as it ignores the length of the stroke of the engine, and we do not propose to enter cars for any future races where the cubic capacity of the engine is not the same in every case.
(2.) We think that the use of anything but ordinary petrol should be forbidden.
(3.) In our opinion there was too much delay at the starting post. We quite appreciate the starter's desire to give no one an advantage, but an inch or two, especially in the case of racing cars, makes no difference, and delay at the post with a 100 h.p. engine, in some cases not bonneted, is not beneficial.
(4.) We think that admission to the £1 enclosure should also include admission to the paddock, otherwise it is impossible for an onlooker to thoroughly enter into the racing unless he be a member of the Club.
(5.) We think that the day chosen for the opening meeting was a very unfortunate one, as the ordinary Metropolitan race goers would choosee to see the London Cup Race at Alexandra Park rather than go to Weybridge. Automobiles, Ltd. (H. R. POPE).
A Barnum, not a Drill Sergeant, Wanted.
Sir, — The Criticisms herewith are offered in no carping spirit, but solely with the idea of endeavouring to help those to save their money who have put it down so lavishly in a sporting venture.
The management in many respects is excellent, but red tape kills all the good there is in it. What is wanted for the track is a Barnum and not a drill sergeant. Rules and regulations are to be found everywhere, commonsense is not much in evidence, and the desire to cater for the public and please them, with the idea of making the venture pay seems to be entirely absent.
Why should a man who has paid £1 for a seat or standing room be debarred from getting a transfer and going into the 2s 6d. enclosure?
Why should the Dunlop Co. have only been allowed to send two tyre fitters into the competitors' enclosure when there was urgent work for twelve tyre fitters?
Why should the distances on the programme be given in decimals - for instance, 3.27995 miles, or 3 miles 492 yards 2 feet, and no information whatever given about the times or the pace in miles per hour?
Why should a competitor, who has possibly paid hundreds of pounds in entry fees be debarred from leaving the competitors' enclosure to get a bite of lintel'?
Why should there be so much difficulty for spectators to get into the paddock (competitors' enclosure)?
What was the idea in making the approaches to the track like a shingle beach on the sea shore? It will not even benefit the boot trade, because every lady will stay away and never go again.
What advantages or privileges does the ten guineas membership fee confer? Many people were saying that all it seemed to confer was the privilege to pay tor anything and everything else.
Where was the band, especially seeing that it was opening day?
The refreshment arrangements are wretched in the extreme, and though, admittedly, the crowd was not so great as it must be if the place is to pay, I have heard that it was quite impossible to get a lady even a cup of tea.
The press arrangements, from all accounts, are wretched in the extreme, and the gentlemen of the pen must be given much better facilities.
The garage charge of £1 per day or £6 per week is all right for the accommodation provided, but this accommodation is totally inadequate in the first place, and unless cars are to stay over night, totally unnecessary in the second place. There should be provided a large area of galvanised roofing, without sides, merely as a reasonable protection from rain, and a charge of, say, 5s. should be ample for accommodation of this kind where no lock-up is provided, and all responsibility rests with the owner of the car.
The arrangements at Weybridge Station are primitive and incapable of dealing with a large crowd.
I could give many instances of red tapeism. The misunderstanding with the crack driver Wagner was very unfortunate and unnecessary. I will, however, content myself with adding that it is evident to all that one man is trying to do too much work, and repeating that the idea seems to have been to make rules and regulations first, and to make the pleasing of visitors so that they would come again quite a secondary consideration. I say again, that what is undoubtedly required is a Barnum and not a drill sergeant.
As regards the track itself, it is too large, and I think the sooner this is recognised and attempted to be grappled with the better for all concerned. I would suggest that the track be altered, and that the short curve behind the terrace be not used at all except for races in which a speed of over eighty miles an hour is attained, but that all other races start on the finishing tape, and not away in the wilderness where no one can see the cars. This will necessitate filling in and curving the track from the end of the finishing straight to the tunnel, but I do not think it will be very costly, and it will give the public something to look at, especially if the competitors among themselves arrange, while playing the game strictly fairly and honourably, to give closer and better finishes. In addition to this alteration, there are a number of trees that need to be cut down, and something should be done to enable the cars an the long curve to be seen. The earth taken away to enable this to be done could be used to make up the curve from the finishing straight to the tunnel.
More important than all, the centre of the track should be thrown open to the public at 1s. or even 6d. a time, and they should be allowed to line up to the railings and be permitted to realise the speed the cars are travelling at. There is something tremendously sensational in a bunch of cars racing one another, even at sixty miles per hour, if one is permitted to get close enough to see them, but viewed from the top of the terrace there is nothing sensational in a car going at 120 miles per hour. I heard one man say that to see a rat running along a window ledge is much more exciting.
Having now reached a speed of eighty-five miles per hour on the track, I am in a better position to judge of its safety than before, and I look upon it as very safe for speeds far in excess of that, though, of course, if anything goes wrong with the car or the driver at those high speeds more or less bad accidents must, inevitably result, but this is no fault of the track, and no matter how it were made the risk will always be there and must be taken.
I do not see why many more competitors should not, be started together. At first I thought that the risk from the amateur driver would be too great, but I in not think now that we shall see many inexperienced drivers at Brooklands — all the competitors on Saturday were first-class drivers, well able to take care of themselves and their fellow competitors, and provided always that the same class of men get up, I to not think there will be undue danger in starting a much larger number together, and thereby greatly adding to the public interest.
Before concluding, there is one serious danger and annoyance requiring immediate attention, and that is the garage provided for the spectators' cars. The entrance to this is down a long narrow lane between high railings — it then opens out, into a wide space where the cars are parked together. If the car which caught fire on the outside of the track at the conclusion of the meeting had taken fire in this garage a couple of hundred cars might easily have been burnt without any possibility of saving them, and with very great danger of being burnt to any persons who might be trapped in the garage. The average time taken by the unfortunate owners who found their cars in this garage was one hour to get, away, and it was even an hour and a half before some could get, out at all. This naturally gave rise to great irritation and annoyance.
In conclusion. I do not take a pessimistic view of the track at all; not the croakings of many individuals, I believe that automobile racing can be made most attractive to the public, and therefore made to pay, bet it must be-
Will Profit by Criticism.
Sir, It cannot be denied that the first official meeting of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club was not an unqualified success, but the venture is such an entirely novel one that, it would have been remarkable had the meeting gone off without, a hitch of any kind.
There can be no doubt that the club will prove of great value to the trade and the motoring public if properly administered, and we are therefore glad to find that the authorities of the Brooklands Racing Club have taken the criticism of the first meeting seriously and intend to profit by it. There was undoubtedly a tendency on the part of certain officials to treat members of the club with scant courtesy. On this point we speak from personal experience, but we feel confident that at the next meeting these various difficulties will have been remedied, and the general arrangements will be all that could be desired.
We are doubtful whether motor racing will over prove popular in the same sense that horse racing is a national sport, but so long as the interest of motorists and would-be motorists is attracted, we think that, as manufacturers, we may be satisfied.
The prices charged for admission at present are not calculated to attract the man in the street, but the fact that the accommodation in the enclosure and stands at Brooklands was far in excess of the demand shows, we think, that the Club authorities have been wise in allowing for future expansion in the attendance. It is certainly more pleasant to watch events with plenty of elbow room than to be one of a closely packed crowd, as is often the case at horse races and football and cricket matches. JOHN I. THORNYCROFT AND CO., LTD.
Track Racing not equal to Road Racing.
Sir, - I think it is too early to give an opinion at the present moment, as naturally, the course having been completed in such a short time, it is impossible for the management to get its arrangements into anything like proper order, but I think the experience of Saturday will show that a great many things will have to be altered, and when these have been done we shall have a better chance of judging.
I am bound to say that I am not in favour of track racing, as it cannot bring out the sterling qualities of a car in the same way that a race like the Kaiserpreis or the Grand Prix over a difficult course and under the conditions that one meets when touring does, and it remains to be seen, as road racing is practically impossible in England, if the public will accept this as a substitute. For Fiat Motors Ltd., DA. A. BAKEER, Managing Director.
Good for the First Meeting.
Sir, — It seems to us that so far as the races themselves were concerned and the competitors the management was exceedingly good, especially in view of the fact that this was the first meeting. Both Mr. Bircham and Mr. Earp (who were driving Iris cars) were satisfied with the management, and had no complaints to make. At the same time, however, we feel that there was a large amount of justification for the grumbling which we heard on many sides relating to the difficulties encountered in respect to the car enclosure, and the terrible delay in getting the cars in and out. In this respect, however, it was obvious that the arrangements for garaging the cars were not completed, and that with a little further attention to those matters by the Brooklands authorities there should be every prospect of success for the track. IRIS CARS LTD.
Deserves Greatest Credit.
Sir, — I consider the Brooklands management deserves the greatest credit, and that it should have the cordial support of all sportsmen and motorists. A. RAWLINSON.
The Autocar Magazine of 6th and 13th of July 1907.