It’s easy to think that ‘disruptors’ are a modern phenomenon. People who refuse to accept that their idea can’t & won’t revolutionise their field of expertise… or their part of the world. But what are Wallace McLeod & Harry Ferguson if not ‘disruptors’? Men of vision and, more importantly, action!
You will likely have heard of Harry Ferguson, engineering legend; the first man in Ireland to build & fly an aeroplane, designer of the 3-point linkage that created the modern tractor, father of a 4-wheel drive system that even made it to Formula One.
Wallace McLeod was an engineer, and lecturer at Belfast College of Technology. More pertinent to our tale, he was a racing enthusiast and the motoring correspondent for the ‘Belfast News-Letter’. And it was in the capacity of correspondent & enthusiast that he found himself at Brooklands in 1927. There, an idea formed. An idea he batted-around with Eyston, Howe & Guinness. An idea so well received that, on his return, he wrote an op-ed that was published in the ‘Belfast News-Letter’ on the morning of November 1, 1927.
Whether Ferguson had advance knowledge of McLeod’s article, or whether he first read it over his morning egg & soldiers is unclear. What we do know is that Ferguson’s immediate reply was printed on the News-Letter’s correspondence page the following morning.
The two pieces are included below – from The British Newspaper Archive. They are a remarkable ‘call to arms’, but you should know that this was only the beginning for these ‘men of action’. Within weeks the RAC had sent a team to Northern Ireland, to see two proposed circuits for international motor races. In turn, McLeod & Ferguson had promised the RAC the full backing of the Belfast government. It is unclear if they had any authority to do this, but it’s that ‘disruptor’ mentality again… “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness, than ask for permission”!
Their great idea – begat of the morning paper’s letters page – became the revival of the RAC International Tourist Trophy at the Ards Circuit in 1928. International British road-racing re-born, and the path set towards the world-beating industry we know today.
So please read the article & response below, and take it to heart. The lesson – write that letter, pitch that idea, send that tweet… you might not change the world, but you just might change yours.