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The Most Gruelling Six Days

The Speedtracktales team has now acquired an original copy of ‘the Motor Cycle‘ report on the ISDT 1938 report.

image - cover of 'the Motor Cycle' issue of 21 July 1938 with report on the ISDT 1938

image – cover of ‘the Motor Cycle’ issue of 21 July 1938 with report on the ISDT 1938

The magazine article has been scanned and can be found in our issue.com library as well as here below.

Britain’s easy victory robs event of interest: Machine Reliability over the Severe 1,495 mile course

Reads the header of the editorial from this issue giving us a period overview of the week long event taking place towards the end of the quite before a great storm that raged the following year and darkened much of the world for 5 years.

photo - LH Side - In a picturesque setting, A.J. Nichol (349 Triumph) crossing the narrow, fern-lined bridge at Rhos y Gwilar. Centre Left - A winding track over the hills. Sections such as this - narrow and loose-surfaced and continuing for mile after mile - made time keeping a difficult business. Top Centre - An interested

LAST week’s International Six Days’ Trial might be likened to a damp squib, and not merely because of the weather in Wales and later at Donington. The fact is that after the second day the main interest in the trial had disappeared, because in the contest for the International Trophy only Britain had a complete team. Germany lost two of her four representatives on that day and Czechoslovakia one.

photo - LH Side - Spectators watch intently as competitors climb Babel Hill ,a 1 in 4 gradient. The riders are #102 J.A Leslie (499 Rudge) of the Great Britain

Thus, it was almost a certainty that Britain would prove the winner. That this should rob the event of so much interest shows how, in this trial of trials, the trophy competition is paramount.

photo - Miss Marjorie Cottle (249 Triumph) and Mrs M.L Anning (248 BSA) were the only women riders in the trial, and they both performed outstandingly well.  ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – #41 Miss Marjorie Cottle (249 Triumph) and #22 Mrs M.L Anning (248 BSA) were the only women riders in the trial, and they both performed outstandingly well. ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

While Britain won easily, Germany had the lion’s share of the remaining awards, for she won the International Vase, the Hühnlein competition and the Club team prize. She also gained 14 of the 33 gold medals to be awarded; Britain won 12; Holland, 3; Czechoslovakia, 2; and Sweden and Ireland 1 each.

photo - It was unusual to find riding numbers running in sequence miles away from the start. Here are Nos #73, #74 and #75 C.N Rogers (346 Royal Enfield) H Fruth (494 BMW) and E Gordon Bennett (497 Ariel) on Bwlch y Groes ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – It was unusual to find riding numbers running in sequence miles away from the start. Here are Nos #73, #74 and #75 C.N Rogers (346 Royal Enfield) H Fruth (494 BMW) and E Gordon Bennett (497 Ariel) on Bwlch y Groes ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

To compare results on a basis of the number of entries per gold medal is of little value. With some countries the competitors consisted almost entirely of picked men, while with others many of those taking part were competing for the sake of a sporting holiday, often without real knowledge of the International and with machines far from suitable for the work in hand.

Because of this it is easy to gain a false impression of the reliability of the modern motorcycle. This year largely because the British Army had entered three teams, the daily Press were present on the trial in force. Their descriptions, as a whole, were better than ever before. Inevitably, however, their reports spread far and wide the fact that of the 209 starters well over half – actually 127- red. These retirements in numerous cases had nothing to do with machine reliability even in this trial, the most gruelling Six Days ever held.

photo - Britain's Trophy team solo riders lapping Donington in the final speed test - George Rowley (A.J.S) followed by Jack Williams (Norton) and Vic Brittain (Norton) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – Britain’s Trophy team solo riders lapping Donington in the final speed test – George Rowley (A.J.S) followed by Jack Williams (Norton) and Vic Brittain (Norton) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

No doubt the A.C.U., after being told that last year’s course was too easy, decided, “Well, that shall not be so this time!” The net result was a I,495-mile “road” course that, by reason of its nature, the highspeed schedules and the settings of the frequent time checks, was more severe even than the German trial at Oberstdorf. The A.C.U. did magnificently, but the fact is that Britain, a country in which roads cannot be closed, is not suitable for such a trial; the competitors, if the test is to be sufficiently severe, a reliable to be endangered. There is no doubt that, for certain classes – notably the sidecar class – there was real danger.

photo - many watersplashes were encountered during the week. It was in part a trial by water! Here is F. Linhardt (B.M.W) leading D. Renooy (350 Eysink) through one of the shallower splashes. ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – many watersplashes were encountered during the week. It was in part a trial by water! Here is F. Linhardt (B.M.W) leading D. Renooy (350 Eysink) through one of the shallower splashes. ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

Much discussion will result from last week’s trial. In the opinion of many it is only the few among the competitors who have brought riding in the International, a trial which is entirely different from the normal run of events, to a really fine art. There is also the important point that a member of a trophy or vase team not only has to ride to ensure his team winning, but to use every endeavour to gain a gold medal for the maker who has entered him. These two interests can be diametrically opposed. Obviously, if a team is “sitting pretty” for the vase or trophy with a win assured provided that members of it do not retire, that team should not take the slightest risk. It can be better to lose marks on time and therefore gold medals rather than risk retiring altogether. This team question is important, for it might in some future competition prove a problem. The final question is, “Where will next year’s trial be held?” Various countries have been discussed as possible venues – Germany, France (with Grenoble as the centre), Switzerland, Italy and even Sweden. At the moment, it is likely that Germany, our excellent hosts in 1934 to 1936, will be entrusted with the task.

photo - #136 G Wolsey (498 Triumph), winner of a Gold Medal, shown on the Bwlch y Groes ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – #136 G Wolsey (498 Triumph), winner of a Gold Medal, shown on the Bwlch y Groes ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - #132 Len Heath (497 Ariel) - another Gold Medal winner ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – #132 Len Heath (497 Ariel) – another Gold Medal winner ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - the Germany

photo – the Germany “A” team which won the International Silver Vase – a trio of B.M.W riders: R. Seltsam, J Forstner and G Meier. ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - Winners of the Hühnlein and Club (the Bowmaker) team prize - the SS team consisting of L. Patina, K Zimmermann and W Mundhenke, all on BMW's. ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – Winners of the Hühnlein and Club (the Bowmaker) team prize – the SS team consisting of L. Patina, K Zimmermann and W Mundhenke, all on BMW’s. ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - These competitors went home smiling they all won gold medals L-R #129 H.G.T Smith (349 Excelsior), #46 A. Jeffries (249 Triumph), W. Tiffin Jnr (349 Velocette) #146 A Archer (497 Ariel) F M Rist (500 BSA) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – These competitors went home smiling they all won gold medals L-R #129 H.G.T Smith (349 Excelsior), #46 A. Jeffries (249 Triumph), W. Tiffin Jnr (349 Velocette) #146 A Archer (497 Ariel) F M Rist (500 BSA) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - One of the 12 British riders to win a

photo – One of the 12 British riders to win a “Gold” in the International Trial – #83 W.A. West in action on his 497cc ARIEL ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - A German Gold-medallist in the

photo – A German Gold-medallist in the “International” – #71 K Zimmermann (B.M.W) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

More International Gold Medal winners

photo - #26 V Stanislav (247 Jawa) (Czechoslovakia), #49 A. Vitvar (247 Jawa) (Czechoslovakia) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – #26 V Stanislav (247 Jawa) (Czechoslovakia), #49 A. Vitvar (247 Jawa) (Czechoslovakia) ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - #90 J Bovee (494 B.M.W) (Holland) A.P v Hamerveld (494 BMW) Holland - ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – #90 J Bovee (494 B.M.W) (Holland) #101 A.P v Hamerveld (494 BMW) Holland – ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo - J.E . Fijma (#497 Ariel) Holland ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

photo – J.E . Fijma (#497 Ariel) Holland ISDT 1938 (Mortons Archive)

The digital copy of this article can be downloaded from the Speedtracktales library at issuu.com.

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