John Barnard is rightly credited with the first carbon-fibre monocoque for the Chaparral 2K, but it is hardly surprising that this marque should have been receptive to the material when Jim Hall and Hap Sharp had built a complete glassfibre chassis for their mid-engine Chaparral 2 sports car in 1963.
The company had first run a chin spoiler on the Chaparral 1 in the 1962 season and used one on the prototype Chaparral 2. Properly engineered suspension-mounted wings, rear-set radiators and a ducted front wing appeared on the 2E of '66, and a splitter was used on the 2F in '67. The 1970 2J fan car introduced suspension-actuated sliding skirts reliably engineered in Lexan.
All of this information was widely publicised by Shell and properly written up by contemporary journalists such as Pete Lyons and Paul van Valkenberg, as well as being available from the US patents office.
The only remarkable thing about the F1 innovators you write about in your February issue is how tardy they were to adopt these ideas.
Richard Falconer; joint author with Doug Nye of Chaparral 7967-7970
During Lunch With (February issue), John Webb mentioned racing a Jensen 541 which broke its steering at a Brands Hatch meeting in 1957. I was spectating at Druids Hill Bend and it was very fortuitous that the failure occurred as John approached the next corner, now called Graham Hill Bend, but known then as Bottom Bend. John was able to run off safely onto the infield below the pits. Had it occurred seconds earlier the car would probably have joined the spectators at Druids Hill, as their only protection was a shallow ditch. Circuits now may be a maze of Armco, debris fencing etc, but at least the risk of a significant excursion into the crowd is very much reduced.
Incidentally, Archie Scott Brown was competing at this meeting in the works Lister. I have fond memories of watching his sideways style of progression around the circuit, especially the descent from Druids Hill Bend; he was even almost sideways in the access tunnel from the paddock onto the track! Such a performance has only been equalled, in my view, by Timo Makinen. On the 1965 RAC Rally I witnessed Timo fully sideways in an Austin-Healey 3000 prior to Lodge Corner at Oulton Park, emerging already lined up for Deer's Leap. What a shame we have lost such spectacles. And both drivers were winners.
Mervyn Pritchard, Marchamley, Shrewsbury
Another feather in Webb's cap
While lunching with Simon Taylor, John Webb may not have had time to mention the Grovewood Awards which he created to encourage talented young racing drivers, with John Danny's backing of course. These were presented in top London hotels such as the Dorchester or the Royal Lancaster.
Richard Attwood received the first award in 1963 after winning the Monaco Grand Prix support race in a Formula Junior Lola Mk5a. The panel, members of the Guild of Motoring Writers, certainly picked some deserving recipients including Piers Courage, Roger Williamson, Tom Pryce, Tony Brise, Mark Blundell, Martin Brundle (named as the best Commonwealth driver!), Martin Donnelly, Vern Schuppan, Tim Schenken, Tiff Needell, Ray Mallock, Chris Lambert, Andy Wallace, David Sears and many more. Very few recipients failed to progress their racing careers.
Michael Cotton, Peppard, Oxfordshire
Lanfranchi after Pipes?
Doug Nye's item on the Autosport Three Hours (February issue) brought back memories of the Snetterton event. I was in the hairpin grandstand when David Piper's accident occurred. We heard a big screech of tyres, then out of the murk the green 250LM Ferrari was coming backwards towards us and slammed into the earth bank in front of the stand. The marshals were quickly on the scene and soon rescued Piper. But am I right in thinking Tony Lanfranchi's Elva Mk7 went between the Ferrari and the earth bank, narrowly missing everyone?
The race went on at reduced pace with the field trying to keep up with Jack Sears' Cobra.
I remember when we left the circuit we had to push our cycles for about a mile because of heavy traffic and the fog.
Glory days for Snetterton, watching great drivers like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Peter Collins, Mike Parkes and many others.
Mervyn Fulcher; Northwold, Thetford, Norfolk
At NASCAR's coalface
I was truly charmed by Gordon Kirby's piece on NASCAR (January issue). Steve Hallam did a superlative job of explaining the American barnstorming sport. I feel somewhat qualified to pass judgment as I guess I lived it myself.
In 2006 I was hired by SoBe and No Fear to help support their nascent NASCAR Nextel Cup programme. Heavily backed by Jack Roush and Roush Fenway Racing, Boris Said was the driver, Mark Simo the car owner and Frank Stoddard the crew chief. Despite the A+ equipment and engineering we were provided with, our team was so small that while I was brought on to handle sponsor and publicity responsibilities, I was put on the car crew as well.
For the next three years, whether it be at Daytona, Talladega, Watkins Glen or Indianapolis, I was with the crew guys from morning to night, and Steve Hallam certainly has it right. The grind, toil and plain old wear and tear a NASCAR weekend can take on a crew member is otherworldly. There is no rest. There is never enough time. The beating, banging, running and thinking is a constant. And the heat... The asphalt is hot. The car is hot. All the parts are hot. The air is hot. Your crew chief, driver and crew members' tempers are always running hot. It truly is a test of what a person can withstand — no matter how much they love racing.
I've been fortunate enough to be up close to Formula 1, MotoGP, ALMS, World Superbikes, NHRA, Supercross, etc. But nothing comes close to what I experienced in NASCAR.
Eric Johnson, Laguna Niguel, California
A moveable feast...
I see Formula 1 cars are to be allowed moveable wings in 2011. It's interesting that the FIA banned these on the Porsche 917 at Le Mans in 1969, and now, 42 years later, they can be found on several of Porsche's road cars!
Brian Joscelyne, Braintree, Essex E,
Not the only famous five
I was interested to read Gareth Tarr's letter (March issue) regarding previous occasions when five World Champions have appeared on a Grand Prix grid together, but must disagree that the only time this has happened prior to the 2011 season was in South Africa in 1968.
In 1970 the reigning World Champion Jackie Stewart and former champions Graham Hill, John Surtees, Denny Hulme and Jack Brabham all contested Grands Prix, and so the last time five World Champions competed in Formula 1 together would have been at the Mexican GP, the final race of that year. This was Jack Brabham's last Grand Prix before his retirement. Had Jochen Rindt not died at Monza, there could have been six World Champions on the starting grid that day.
One thing that will probably be unique this year, however, is the total number of World Championships shared by the current drivers at 12 (Schumacher on seven, Alonso two, and Hamilton, Button and Vettel one each).
On a similar theme, I recall attending the Gold Cup meeting at Oulton Park in 1965, when in a race for Formula 2 cars the entry list included reigning World Champion John Surtees, former World Champions Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Brabham, and future champions Hulme, Stewart and Rindt. Colin Rigby, Warrington, Cheshire
Insulted by Schuey's stance
I have just read Adam Cooper's article assessing Michael Schumacher's F1 return (February issue). I must preface my remarks by saying that I am no fan of the 'Red Baron', for any number of reasons. But his statement that he is not bothered about not winning during the first year of his comeback, and that he is "happy" just being in F1 must be addressed.
I've no doubt that there are any number of individuals who would be "happy" just to be in F1. Regardless of how many titles he has won, his sponsors are backing a team that should at least pay lip service to the idea of targeting wins and the World Championship.
Regardless of the alleged reasons for his nonperformance during the 2010 season (tyres/car design not suiting him), for Schumacher to dismiss his lack of results by saying that he is just "happy to be driving in F1" is a gross insult to the rest of the teams on the grid.
And to say that if he gets an improved car in 2011 things may be better (i.e. better suited to his driving style — at the expense of his team-mate?) is gross arrogance. He was comprehensively outclassed by Nico Rosberg in 2010. I assume that will continue in 2011.
Schumacher is a very successful F1 driver — the record speaks for itself — but to paraphrase Sir Jackie Stewart, "a great driver? I think not". George T Collet Arlington, Virginia, USA
Gardner's great legacy
It was with great sadness I read today in Motor Sport of the death of Derek Gardner (March issue). I didn't know Derek personally, but like many people I followed the fortunes of Jackie Stewart, Francois Cevert and the Tyrrell team during those World Championship-winning years of the early '70s. I still marvel at the levels of excellence achieved by those cars designed by Derek. It was always said that Jackie had the best of the Cosworth engines and that the Tyrrells didn't handle as well as the Lotus 72. Rubbish, of course! The Tyrrell boys and girls just got on with the job of winning races with Derek's designs.
I still remember as a 14-year old being mesmerised by Tyrrell 005 in its original form. I haven't seen any F1 car since that looked as good, and I saved up for a long time to be able to buy the Tamiya model of Tyrrell 003.
I still marvel today when attending events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and seeing various Tyrrells on display at how brilliant Derek's designs were. I believe Martin Stretton drove Tyrrell 005 in historic racing some years ago and was 'engineered' by Derek. Indeed, I saw Martin at the Festival of Speed some years ago attacking the hill in the pouring rain with 005 and it was a sight to behold! Derek achieved so much with the Tyrrell cars, and if you read Doug Nye's The Grand Prix Tyrrells it gives you a small insight into all the different ideas Derek was developing with the cars at that time.
His achievements will never be forgotten by me, and I hope many other people will share those sentiments.
Dave Gurt Uckfield, East Sussex
Patrick's six-wheeled slide
Having just read your very interesting article on the six-wheeled Tyrrell (February issue), and in particular how it was enjoyed by Patrick Depailler, I thought you might like to reproduce this picture I took of him in the P34 during practice for the 1976 Monaco GP.
I gave a copy of this photograph to both the driver and the team owner. Patrick was delighted with his, whereas 'Uncle Ken' just shook his head! Michael Hewett, Caterham, Surrey
Not that Peter...
With reference to Doug Nye's March column, surely it is Peter Sargent, not Peter Lumsden, who has the Old Tollgate restaurant? And very good it is too!
Jim Gavin, Billingshurst, West Sussex
And not that Terry!
I refer to your article on the Lotus Sydney Tasman Revival on page 21 of the February issue. You mention Terry Larson as owning the Porsche-built EBS Interserie car, when in fact it is Terry Lawlor. Jamie Larson was the winner. I would appreciate a correction if you can. Oh, and Eastern Creek, Sydney is in Australia, not New Zealand!
Terry Lawlor, Sydney, Australia