Jump to content


Photo

Verglas. Memories?


  • Please log in to reply
28 replies to this topic

#1 Jackie

Jackie
  • Member

  • 679 posts
  • Joined: May 99

Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:15

I remember Verglas from when I was a kid. I think it was Motoring News? His logo, for want of a better word, was an 'icy road' sign. Doesn't 'verglas' mean something about ice?

From my dad's memoirs:

Indeed, a great old pal of mine who wrote under the name of Verglas covered the East African Safari Rally a number of times and fell in love with Africa. So much so, that he went to live in Kenya and was killed on the Mombasa Road by an African truck driver in the early 70s. Gerry Phillips has been missed by a lot of people.


Anyone know more? Any memories?



Advertisement

#2 SJ Lambert

SJ Lambert
  • Member

  • 4,856 posts
  • Joined: March 09

Posted 02 November 2010 - 02:09

I remember Verglas from when I was a kid. I think it was Motoring News? His logo, for want of a better word, was an 'icy road' sign. Doesn't 'verglas' mean something about ice?


Anyone know more? Any memories?


Can't help with Verglas from MN, but the icy verglas is a French word referring to a treacherous, thin, hard layer of ice over rock. Verglas forms when warmer daytime temperatures thaw snow fields and cause meltwater to ooze over rock, then the cold snap of night freezes the water. Can be tricky if it's too thin to get your crampons into it.

Cheers James

#3 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 65,157 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 02 November 2010 - 05:42

Motor Racing, I think...

But David or Doug will soon correct me if I'm wrong.

#4 cooper997

cooper997
  • Member

  • 2,319 posts
  • Joined: December 08

Posted 02 November 2010 - 06:41

Jackie,

Your dad's memoirs mention Gerry Phillips, as 'Verglas' but he wasn't the first.

In May 1960, a rally navigator named Stuart Turner was given a job with 'Motoring News' to write items and help produce the paper. During his tenure he started a column 'Rally round-up' under the pseudonym of 'Verglas' - but it would be a short stay. Stuart taking over from Marcus Chambers, as BMC Competitions Dept manager in September 1961. Thus going on to mastermind some brilliant rallying wins for the BMC.

So maybe Gerry took over as 'Verglas' when Stuart went to BMC.

Stephen

#5 Tony Matthews

Tony Matthews
  • Member

  • 17,518 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 02 November 2010 - 07:20

Several publications had and have regular features that keep the heading regardless of changes in the journalists over the years. Gerry Phillips was 'Verglas' when I was at Motoring News, and although I didn't ever see that much of him - he was nearly always out of the office, and I was nearly always in it - we got on well. A very laid-back, friendly man, I think fluent in Finnish and Swahili, he'd call "Jambo, Bwana" down the corridor and give me a wave. He later shared some of the 'Verglas' duties with Mike Greasley, who may well have taken over completely later, but I left a couple of years after Mike joined MN. I didn't hear of Gerry's death for some time after the tragic event.

#6 john winfield

john winfield
  • Member

  • 2,904 posts
  • Joined: July 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 07:50

Jackie, in an earlier thread, RS2000 writes:


"MN was merely a general industry trade paper at one time (late 50s?) and its change to a motorsport "bible" was largely on the back of road rallying. Its authority in that respect never outlived the end of a "Verglas" rallies editor who truly had a finger on the pulse and didn't just react to press releases and a few cronies. Stuart Turner, John Brown, John Davenport, Atis Krauklis, Gerry Phillips cannot be replaced because the sport itself (and thus weekly sales) has retracted. "

Perhaps all five mentioned here were 'Verglas' at one time.

#7 SJ Lambert

SJ Lambert
  • Member

  • 4,856 posts
  • Joined: March 09

Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:58

Jackie, in an earlier thread, RS2000 writes:


"MN was merely a general industry trade paper at one time (late 50s?) and its change to a motorsport "bible" was largely on the back of road rallying. Its authority in that respect never outlived the end of a "Verglas" rallies editor who truly had a finger on the pulse and didn't just react to press releases and a few cronies. Stuart Turner, John Brown, John Davenport, Atis Krauklis, Gerry Phillips cannot be replaced because the sport itself (and thus weekly sales) has retracted. "

Perhaps all five mentioned here were 'Verglas' at one time.


Here's Verglas, as it appeared in Motoring News, 22 February, 1968.

Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us



#8 P.Dron

P.Dron
  • Member

  • 321 posts
  • Joined: December 09

Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:36

I believe Gerry Phillips died some time in the 1990s, not "the early 70s". He was certainly still very much alive in 1977 when I followed the Safari Rally around Kenya. I remember him as friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable.

#9 Graham Gauld

Graham Gauld
  • Member

  • 1,192 posts
  • Joined: September 04

Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:42


Gerry Phillips was an amusing character and my favourite two stories about him concern my, and his, first visit to the Swedish rally back about 1977.

I had persuaded American journalist Henry Manney III that a visit to Sweden in February for the Swedish Rally would be amusing and interesting and he agreed so we met up at Gothenburg airport where the PR manager for VOlvo presented us with a car to use when we were in Sweden. That year the rally was based in Orebro before itmoved to Karlstad and it was the coldest Swedish rally most people had known. I know that one night at about 3.00 am the outside air temperature was -41 degrees which is cold in anyones language
How Gerry got there I do not know but he asked if we could give him a lift round the rally and Henry agreed provided he did not smoke is pipe in the car however after the first day Henry complained about Gerry's smelly feet and told him not to take his shoes off in the car! However, one evening, with nothing to do Gerry and I were strolling through Orebro and came across a cinema showing "Swedish" movies so I suggested we go in and sample the fare. Gerry had previously been a postman in Wales and as there was no smoking in Swedish cinemas he sat through the movies sucking noisily at an empty pipe and at one point when the couple were heavily entwined Gerry took the pipe out his mouth, let out a gasp and said ".....man, they don't have any of that in the Rhonda" at which the entire audience broke up laughing as they could all understand English. Good old Gerry he loved his rallying.

#10 Allan Lupton

Allan Lupton
  • Member

  • 3,742 posts
  • Joined: March 06

Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:28

Jackie, in an earlier thread, RS2000 writes:


"MN was merely a general industry trade paper at one time (late 50s?) and its change to a motorsport "bible" was largely on the back of road rallying. Its authority in that respect never outlived the end of a "Verglas" rallies editor who truly had a finger on the pulse and didn't just react to press releases and a few cronies. Stuart Turner, John Brown, John Davenport, Atis Krauklis, Gerry Phillips cannot be replaced because the sport itself (and thus weekly sales) has retracted. "

Perhaps all five mentioned here were 'Verglas' at one time.

They were "Verglas" and in that order.
Always felt that Verglas was really a German word in origin and it had been adopted by the Frence to blame the Germans for the invention of black ice (as we call it here). However it may have its origins in Alsace or Switzerland where the languages overlap.

Motoring News was a great supporter of rallying, not least by way of their rally championship. My current navigator is still held in high esteem as he won the MN three times and was in the first three in five other years. Don Barrow lists the top places here.

#11 Tony Matthews

Tony Matthews
  • Member

  • 17,518 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:33

I believe Gerry Phillips died some time in the 1990s, not "the early 70s". He was certainly still very much alive in 1977 when I followed the Safari Rally around Kenya. I remember him as friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable.

I think the irony was that he had gone to Africa to attend the funeral of a friend who had been killed in a road accident.

He told a tale of a visit to a suana in Finland with some rally drivers and navigators - instructed in the ritual, he coped with the scaulding steam, the cold plunge, the whacking with birch twigs, when he was told "Now Gerry, you must run through this door!" A door was flung open, he was bundled through and the door slammed shut behind him. Gerry was left standing in the snow, naked, pink and steaming, on the main street.

Edited by Tony Matthews, 02 November 2010 - 11:40.


#12 SJ Lambert

SJ Lambert
  • Member

  • 4,856 posts
  • Joined: March 09

Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:59

Always felt that Verglas was really a German word in origin and it had been adopted by the Frence to blame the Germans for the invention of black ice (as we call it here). However it may have its origins in Alsace or Switzerland where the languages overlap.



I must admit my first stab at it was aided by the Americans, but your suggestion sounded more than feasible too, certainly has a Germanic ring to it. Here's my latest offering, fresh off the web. I'm intrigued.............. will look into it further!!

verglas [ˈvɛəglɑː] n pl -glases [-glɑː -glɑːz] (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) a thin film of ice on rock [from Old French verre-glaz glass-ice, from verre glass (from Latin vitrum) + glaz ice (from Late Latin glacia, from Latin glaciēs)]hc_dict()

#13 Richard Young

Richard Young
  • Member

  • 85 posts
  • Joined: April 07

Posted 02 November 2010 - 13:31

A couple of other occupants of the Verglas chair at MN were Rupert Saunders and Ed Morgan.

#14 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 8,979 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 02 November 2010 - 13:45

I must admit my first stab at it was aided by the Americans, but your suggestion sounded more than feasible too, certainly has a Germanic ring to it. Here's my latest offering, fresh off the web. I'm intrigued.............. will look into it further!!

verglas [ˈvɛəglɑː] n pl -glases [-glɑː -glɑːz] (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) a thin film of ice on rock [from Old French verre-glaz glass-ice, from verre glass (from Latin vitrum) + glaz ice (from Late Latin glacia, from Latin glaciēs)]hc_dict()


I think almost everyone is correct here, Verglas in French translates as 'black ice' as we all know, but the same word also means 'glaze' in German. I haven't got a copy of the Straßenverkehrsordnung, which as I'm sure you're all aware is the German Highway Code to hand, but I think that black ice auf Deutsch would be 'Glatteis'.

Back to Gerry Phillips, I never missed a copy of Motoring News reader as a teenager, and when finances allowed, bought Autosport as well. I was only really interested in cars and racing, hardly at all in rallying, but I always used to read the Verglas page, he was a more amusing writer than most of the MN journalists.


#15 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 02 November 2010 - 14:19

I think almost everyone is correct here, Verglas in French translates as 'black ice' as we all know, but the same word also means 'glaze' in German. I haven't got a copy of the Straßenverkehrsordnung, which as I'm sure you're all aware is the German Highway Code to hand, but I think that black ice auf Deutsch would be 'Glatteis'.


Great German skills :up:

#16 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 8,979 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 02 November 2010 - 14:38

Great German skills :up:


Danke!

I always keep a copy of die Straßenverkehrsordnung handy, that way I'm not likely to fall foul of die Hoechsgeschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen (maximum speed limits).


#17 Allan Lupton

Allan Lupton
  • Member

  • 3,742 posts
  • Joined: March 06

Posted 02 November 2010 - 14:45

I think almost everyone is correct here, Verglas in French translates as 'black ice' as we all know, but the same word also means 'glaze' in German. I haven't got a copy of the Straßenverkehrsordnung, which as I'm sure you're all aware is the German Highway Code to hand, but I think that black ice auf Deutsch would be 'Glatteis'.


Quite so and the German roadsign says "Glatteisgefahr".
I still think the French word is a German import - which is not the same as saying it is a word the Germans use for black ice (rather as we use "cul de sac" to describe what the French call "Impasse" or "Voie sans issue")

#18 Michael Ferner

Michael Ferner
  • Member

  • 4,681 posts
  • Joined: November 09

Posted 02 November 2010 - 15:07

"Verglas" is not a German word. The nearest German word would be "verglasen", a verb meaning "to glaze", so no connection to black ice.

#19 Tim Murray

Tim Murray
  • Moderator

  • 21,711 posts
  • Joined: May 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 15:17

I believe Gerry Phillips died some time in the 1990s, not "the early 70s". He was certainly still very much alive in 1977 when I followed the Safari Rally around Kenya. I remember him as friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable.

This is confirmed by a couple of posts that TNFer ReWind made in another forum. Gerry Phillips was born in 1931 and died in a road accident in Kenya on 4th December 1996, as recorded on TNFer Kabouter's Rallybase site:

http://www.rallybase...;driverid=10452

ReWind quoted the obituary which appeared in Autosport:

Rallying lost one of its most endearing characters last Wednesday when Gerry Phillips was killed in a road accident in Kenya. The veteran journalist was in the country he loved for the memorial service of a friend when the accident happened. Phillips, like Denis Jenkinson, was a lynchpin of reportage in Motor Sport and for many his reports from the World Rally Championship were a vital link with the series. His experience was vast and it should not be forgotten that he was Ari Vatanen's co-driver when the fiery young Finn made his overseas debut on the Rally of Jamaica in 1975. Whether it was recounting outrageous and hilarious stories in his own blend of Welsh and Swahili, puffing on his trademark pipe or enjoying his second love of flying a helicopter, Gerry was the life and soul of many a party.



Advertisement

#20 Doug Nye

Doug Nye
  • Member

  • 9,539 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 15:29

Gerry Phillips was the resident 'Verglas' during my brief period with 'Motor Sport' and 'Motoring News' in 1968. He was very avuncular and friendly, a good bloke apart from that evil old pipe - I have always disliked nicotine smoke, so no special reflection upon him. He used to partner assorted Scandiwegian drivers who visited for home rallies up to and including the RAC International. In those days of continuous day-night-day rallying, none of your pansy hotel bed cloverleaf nonsense, one - whose name I cannot recall - suddenly said to Gerry: "Yerry - you sleepy?". Gerry answered, "No - I'm fine" - whereupon the driver announced "OK - I sleeping", and he simply clambered out of the driving seat into the back of the car, leaving 'Yerry' (unbriefed) to grab the steering wheel and slither across to take over - their rally car weaving from kerb to kerb in the process, at around 90mph...

Like some other incumbents as 'Verglas', Gerry I think did quite well out of various deals, contras, commissions within his rallying world. Whetever happened to Atis Krauklis I have no idea, I never met him - Mike Greasely struck me as another good guy, and he went on to greater things, while the star performer of course was Stuart Turner who became an industry great. John Davenport, friendly bloke, obviously sailed rather too close to the wind at Abingdon and paid the price for it... I don't think there was ever a 'Verglas' who was dull. At least, not one in 'my' period...I cannot speak for later. Oh yes, it is said that John Brown was so noisy as navigator to Erik Carlsson on the RAC one year that big Erik - normally the most cuddly Barney Bear of a man - reputedly punched him. I would not like to be punched by Erik Carlsson. I wonder if that story's true?

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 02 November 2010 - 15:31.


#21 P.Dron

P.Dron
  • Member

  • 321 posts
  • Joined: December 09

Posted 02 November 2010 - 15:42

Oh yes, it is said that John Brown was so noisy as navigator to Erik Carlsson on the RAC one year that big Erik - normally the most cuddly Barney Bear of a man - reputedly punched him. I would not like to be punched by Erik Carlsson. I wonder if that story's true?

DCN


I do not think he punched him but according to Erik he stopped, pulled Brown out of the car, lifted him off the ground by the lapels (quite a feat, I should think), said, "You are a silly little man", got back in the driver's seat and continued as if nothing had happened.

#22 Doug Nye

Doug Nye
  • Member

  • 9,539 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 18:40

Now that I can picture. Which might prompt a thread covering drivers falling out with their Navs...

DCN

#23 sterling49

sterling49
  • Member

  • 10,917 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 02 November 2010 - 18:49

Now that I can picture. Which might prompt a thread covering drivers falling out with their Navs...

DCN



Great idea Doug..........I can still hear the arguments in my car now !

#24 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 8,979 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 02 November 2010 - 19:04

Now that I can picture. Which might prompt a thread covering drivers falling out with their Navs...

DCN


Would that include the customary marital strife over in-car map reading & satnav interpretation ?


#25 Fred Gallagher

Fred Gallagher
  • Member

  • 303 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 20:25

Now that I can picture. Which might prompt a thread covering drivers falling out with their Navs...

DCN


Never a cross word.....

#26 Fred Gallagher

Fred Gallagher
  • Member

  • 303 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 20:33

.....and while that was meant a bit tongue in cheek when I think about it, it's pretty true.

When Henri Toivonen and I were going our separate ways during RAC 1983 there was a fair amount of silence in the car but that's about it.

Henri's girlfriend at the time was an Italian lady who I still see on TV on the F1 grid. After we retired from the rally in Grizedale we made our way back to the HQ hotel in Windermere. I arranged a lift back to Bath early next day with Margaret McRae and the rally circus were all out of town by 7 a.m. HT and squeeze apparently surfaced around 10 with no idea where on the island they were and where they should go! I did smile when told.....

Nevertheless, Henri and I got over it.

Fred


#27 Fred Gallagher

Fred Gallagher
  • Member

  • 303 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 02 November 2010 - 20:39

"So much so, that he went to live in Kenya and was killed on the Mombasa Road by an African truck driver in the early 70s. Gerry Phillips has been missed by a lot of people."

And to get back on topic, and for the sake of historical accuracy, Geraint (Gerry) was killed on the road from Naivasha heading south into Nairobi.

Fred


#28 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 4,116 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 02 November 2010 - 21:42

I have to say I was rather in awe of Gerry when I was at Standard House in the late seventies. On the rare occasions he was actually in the office, he was invariably story telling and very often in a foreign language! He was a helicopter enthusiast certainly and had a fabulous motorised model of one, although it wouldn't have surprised me if he had the real thing tucked away somewhere as well.

Ian Sadler produced Verglas for a while and I even did it some weeks when there was nobody else around :eek:


#29 RogerBarnard

RogerBarnard
  • New Member

  • 12 posts
  • Joined: June 10

Posted 07 November 2010 - 20:45

I have to say I was rather in awe of Gerry when I was at Standard House in the late seventies. On the rare occasions he was actually in the office, he was invariably story telling and very often in a foreign language! He was a helicopter enthusiast certainly and had a fabulous motorised model of one, although it wouldn't have surprised me if he had the real thing tucked away somewhere as well.

Ian Sadler produced Verglas for a while and I even did it some weeks when there was nobody else around :eek:


Gerry Phillips - what a lovely man! We used to look forward to his visits to Kenya for the Safari Rally. His championing of the event from (I think) 1968 onwards must have played a significant part in the rally's success. I cannot remember ever hearing him say a bad word about anyone, and he treated everyone he met with his natural courtesy and good humour. from the humblest rally fan upwards.

The Japanese used to call him 'Jellysan' - a name which he loved.

I believe that on his telephone answering machine he recorded a hilarious message purporting to be from an African manservant, though I never heard it myself.

It is no surprise that people are still talking about him 14 years after his untimely death.