When Autocar helped design the Dutch GP Car News

What does the name Sydney Charles Houghton Davis mean to you? Not a lot? Fair enough. Let’s shorten it a bit then. SCH Davis. Anything? Ok, we’re going to use the nickname he’s been known by most of his life. Sammy Davis. Or the pen name, ‘Helmet’? If you’re still scratching your head, it’s not because Sammy not only passed away 40 years ago, but he was 94 at the time. He did what he did a long time ago. But he did quite a lot.

Why is that now? Well, I’ll get to that in a moment. For now, know that Sammy is best known today for winning Le Mans for Bentley in 1927, a considerable feat considering the car he was driving was so badly damaged after being involved in the crash at someone else at the start of the race that she was presumed struck off. But with a curved frame, a single headlight and brakes that were more efficient at turning the car over than at slowing it down, he returned to the fray and with his co-driver, Dr Dudley Benjafield not only won the biggest race in the world, but did it with such a large margin he has not been beaten to this day.

Other accolades included being instrumental in shaping Bentley Motors, founding the Veteran Car Club, and serving as president of what would become the British Racing and Sports Car Club. He was also good enough with oils and brushes to make a living later as an artist and illustrator. Quite polymath, then. But here is the link. He did not consider himself a racing driver or a painter, but as a writer. And it was as a sports editor for Autocar – writing under the aforementioned Helmet name – that he made much of his living in the 1920s.

Yet even that is not the real reason to write this now. Because another chord in his bow was that he had clearly become involved in circuit design because in 1946 he had been recruited to help determine the layout of a new European race track. Built from the roads left by the occupying forces when they were driven out in 1945, the track was located just north of the pretty seaside town of Zandvoort, where the Formula 1 circus returns this weekend for the premiere. times in 36 years.

Now it’s true that much of the original circuit has been lost for development, but the main straight, the legendary Tarzan turn at its end, and the sweeps that lead to the still spooky Scheivlak turn follow quite faithfully. the layout of the original. . So when the F1 crowd takes off on Sunday (weather permitting), don’t forget that there is a person directly connecting the circuit to the title whose words you are reading right now. SCH ‘Sammy’ Davis, a great writer, author, artist, pilot and, it seems, circuit designer too. He was also, and by all the accounts I have read, a high profile guy too with a mischievous sense of humor. I thought you might like to know.


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This notice was published: 2021-09-03 05:00:00

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